Ensure Your Wishes are Followed Even if You are Unable to Make Decisions for Yourself with Help from Advance Directive Attorneys at Elder Law Lexington in Lexington, KY
You have the right to choose who will make health care decisions and manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated.
Elder Law Lexington knows that an important part of any estate plan is an advance directive that allows you to make critical end-of-life decisions about your personal healthcare. This is crucial in the event you become incapacitated, as you may not be able to verbalize your wishes. By stating your healthcare choices in an advance directive, you help your family and physician fully understand your wishes about your medical care. It is important that you work with an experienced Kentucky advance directive law firm, like Elder Law Lexington, to be certain that your wishes are known and made legally.
What Exactly is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a way to put those wishes on record for your family, heirs, and healthcare provider. An advance directive may name a person of your choice to make healthcare choices for you if you cannot make the choices for yourself. You can also use an advance directive to prevent specific individuals from making healthcare decisions for you. Advance directives are only to be used if you become incapacitated. As long as you are able to decide and express your own decisions, your advance directive will not control your decisions.
There are Two Main Types of Advance Directives
The first is when a health care power of attorney lets you name a person to make treatment decisions for you when you can’t speak for yourself. This person is called an agent, healthcare surrogate, or healthcare proxy.
The second is a living will that tells your family and your doctor what kinds of treatment you want to receive as you near the end of your life and can no longer speak for yourself.
Unless limited, an advance directive gives your agent very broad authority to make all health care decisions for you, including:
- Consenting or refusing to consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition;
- Selecting or discharging healthcare providers or institutions;
- Approving or disapproving diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication;
- Directing the provision, withholding or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration, and all other forms of healthcare, including pulmonary resuscitation;
- Making anatomical gifts, authorizing an autopsy, and directing disposition of remains.
In Your Advance Directive, You May Limit Your Agent’s Authority to Make Decisions for You by Stating Your Wishes
Some Specific Examples of Limitations Include:
- If you do not want your life prolonged when treatment is futile
- If you do not wish to receive food and fluids artificially, regardless of your condition
- You may also state under what circumstances you do not want treatment even to alleviate pain or discomfort
- You may also convey your instructions regarding organ or tissue donations in the event of your death
In your advance directive, you may state any of your preferences, including where you want to receive treatment, your values, and any other specific instructions to your agent.
Deciding who to appoint as your agent in your advance directive is not always easy. Consider appointing someone you trust, who lives near you, and who is willing and able to take on this responsibility. You will want someone who actually has the time and energy to be available to make these decisions. It is important for you to discuss the specifics of your advance directive with the person you want to appoint as your agent, so that they understand your wishes and can tell you whether they are willing to take on this very important role for you. You should give copies of your advance directive to your agent, your family members, your physician, and any healthcare providers or institutions.
To learn more about advance directives and to begin putting yours together, contact us at Elder Law Lexington today.