One of the most difficult and scary situations your family members may go through is the process of grieving while having to make last-second decisions regarding your care, should you become permanently incapacitated. If you do not provide your loved ones with any specific wishes, they will have to guess amongst themselves as to what you would want, should you suffer a catastrophic stroke or other totally impairing condition or injury. This comes at a time when your family will be suffering serious emotional distress as it is. By forcing them to guess, and possibly argue amongst themselves, the stress of the situation is compounded. There is an easy way to bypass all of this, however. A written, legal document called an advanced healthcare directive will give specific instructions as to how you want medical treatment to continue or discontinue in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. Generally, advanced healthcare directives are created later in life, and are a beneficial supplement to a standard will or trust., but it is rarely too early to create these documents.
An advanced healthcare directive can go by many different names, including an advanced directive, living will, medical directive, and personal directive. They are all the same thing and accomplish the goal of giving specific guidance in the event that your health declines to a state that you cannot make decisions for yourself. This includes being in a coma, being put on life support, being at the end of life, in the advanced stages of dementia, suffering from stroke, becoming seriously injured, and other totally impairing conditions that render a person incapable of communication or rational decision making. It is up to you to decide your specifics wishes in a certain scenario. Often, your family may not be able to guess your final wishes in these events. In order to spare them emotional trauma, and to ensure that your wishes are carried out, creating an advanced healthcare directive is as important a step as creating a will or trust. Do you want to be taken off life support at a certain point or kept on? If you heart stops, do you want to be resuscitated? These are the type of scenarios you can prepare for in advance with a healthcare directive, according to the American Cancer Society. It is important to know that an Advanced Healthcare directive is a legal document, not a medical document. It provides for legal decision-making regarding your healthcare when you cannot speak for yourself.
An advanced healthcare directive can also appoint someone of your choosing power of medical or healthcare attorney. The person you choose will be put in charge of making decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself.
Unfortunately, two-thirds of the adult population do not have a living will, according to the American Bar Association. Contact the Sonoma County Law Office of Charles D. Stark at 707-527-9900 to set up an appointment with one of our living will attorneys today.