You might tell your family or friends about your medical care preferences for the future, but after an illness or accident, you might not be able to communicate new decisions based on new medical evidence. Your legal competence to make such decisions can even be called into question in court. That's why an advance directive can help. It will speak for you if you become unable to speak for yourself. Not only do advance directives benefit you, but they also help your family and physicians understand your preferences as to your medical care or refusal of it.
Is a Living Will Different From an Advanced Directive?
A living will is going to tell doctors and others the medical treatments that you would accept or not accept in the event that you're in a coma or a vegetative condition, and your death is imminent. It's a form of an advanced directive. Doctors can even be instructed by you not to provide comfort care or pain management if you don't want it, but a living will might also spell out situations when you would want your life extended.
Durable Power of Attorney
Aside from a living will, a durable power of attorney is the second most common form of advanced directive. It gives another person the authority to manage your personal affairs for you in the event that you become mentally disabled and unable to make decisions or transact your own personal business. If you grant that person the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf, the durable power of attorney can be used for that purpose too. Whoever you give the power to doesn't need to be an attorney. He or she need not accept the responsibility though, so be sure to speak with that person about your wishes before appointing him or her.
What Other Advance Directives Should I Have?
What you may or may not need depends on your situation. Cane Legal, LLC is available to consult with for this purpose, but just about anybody aged 18 or over is advised to have a living will and durable power of attorney. Advanced directives aren't set in stone either. As circumstances change, you can make changes to them, so long as you're of sound mind.
What Should I Do With These Documents After They're Executed?
First, let the person who you appointed your attorney in fact know where the originally executed documents are. Then, ask your physician to note on your file that you have these documents. If you become married or divorced, you'll likely want to review your documents and make any changes that might be necessary.
Nakeina Cane is a respected Indianapolis attorney who has assisted many clients with their concerns about their health and estate planning issues. Contact her at Cane Legal, LLC about having a living will and durable power of attorney drawn up for you. You'll be acting in the best interests of yourself and those who surround you in doing so.