3 Questions (And Answers) You Have About Advance Directives

30 June 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog

If you haven't heard of an advance directive, you have likely heard of a living will. They refer to the same document, which details your wishes concerning medical treatment and beyond as you begin preparation for the end of life. If you are unsure about your living will needs, these questions and answers will help you create your own advance directive.

1 - Who Needs an Advance Directive?

According to Barack Obama, everybody should have a living will. In fact, he became the first president to announce that he had one. You never know if there will be a time when you cannot speak for yourself or offer consent at an important point. Your parents, spouse or children may have no idea what you actually want, but the advance directive gives you a voice. You may see fit to change your advance directive if you receive a new diagnosis, change your marital status or reconsider your wishes. You can change your living will at any time.

2 - What Does an Advance Directive Include?

Your advance directive allows you to appoint an individual to be in charge of your healthcare decisions if you are unable to make them. You can identify alternates in case the person you choose is unable to fulfill the duties. The living will also include information about which medical treatments you would like to be used to keep you alive. You can also make stipulations regarding pain management and donation of organs in the event of your death.

This is the document that lists whether or not you want to be resuscitated or if you would like mechanical ventilation if you are unable to breathe. You can also establish preferences regarding feeding tubes, dialysis, antibiotics, palliative care and more.

3 - When Does an Advance Directive Come Into Play?

Before your living will can be used, two physicians must agree that you are unable to make medical decisions. Each state also has its own laws surrounding the use of the living will with stipulations regarding unconsciousness and terminal illness. It is also important to know that emergency medical technicians do not honor advance directives simply because they must act quickly.

While you do not need a lawyer to fill out an advance directive, it is always a good idea to have one look it over. This will ensure that your wishes are always taken into account. Additionally, consulting with a lawyer is wise if you intend to change your living will and would like somebody else to have an official copy. To find out more about the law, speak with someone like Dianna Harris, Attorney.