Estate Planning Red Flag - You have not prepared a health care directive

Estate Planning Red Flag

You have not prepared a health care directive

A health care directive allows you to communicate your preferences, in advance, for medical care in the event you are incapacitated and cannot express your wishes. Directives go by different names, including living wills, advance medical directives and directives to physicians.

Often, a directive is coupled with a health care power of attorney (sometimes called a durable medical power of attorney or health care proxy). A power of attorney appoints a representative to make health care decisions on your behalf, which may involve interpreting the terms of the directive or addressing situations not expressly covered.

A health care directive provides your physicians and family with instructions regarding life-sustaining medical procedures. It can specify the situations in which procedures — such as CPR and other “heroic measures,” artificial nutrition and hydration, invasive diagnostic tests, and pain medication — should be used or withheld. It may also cover issues such as last rites or other religious observances, organ donation, and handling of the body after death.

Most states have health care directive statutes, which often include model forms. In addition, many hospitals provide health care directive forms for the use of their patients. But these generic forms may not accommodate your preferences and values, particularly your religious views.

To ensure that your wishes are carried out, work with your advisors to design a health care directive that meets your particular needs.

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