The Importance of Healthcare Directives

Every American remembers the story of Terri Schiavo and the heartache that came with it. In case you didn’t follow up with this unfortunate tale, Terri was a young woman whose heart stopped at the age 25 but who was kept alive by machines for fifteen years. It was because her husband and parents couldn’t agree on what she would’ve wanted – to die peacefully or kept alive artificially. Had Terri had a health care directive, none of this would’ve happened.

If you are in a position where you want to secure yourself against situations like these but aren’t quite sure you know and understand how, here are a few questions answered to help you out:

What Is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An advance health care directive is a document directive naming an agent to make health care decisions for you in case you are not in the position to do so, i.e., are unable to. The agent can be anyone from an immediate family member, or a close relative, or to a neighbor you trust. A health care directive is a combination of a living will and a power of attorney for health care. The person entrusted with this role is the person who speaks to the doctors in case something happens to you.

How to Choose an Appropriate, Trustworthy Agent?

Choosing your health care agent isn’t a decision that should be made on impulse.  What is more, you want to select someone who is capable – both emotionally and morally – of making the most difficult decisions in your name, such as being or not kept alive under certain circumstances.

Do not feel obligated to name your parents or your spouse as your agent. Likewise, if you are the person being named whether by your spouse or someone else close to you, but you don’t feel comfortable being entrusted with a role of this magnitude, communicate your concerns and ask to be unnamed as a health care directive agent. Explain why you don’t feel okay with this role and encourage them to pick someone else who can handle a situation this serious.

What Are Other Provisions That Might Be Included in an Advance Health Care Directive?

Apart from being a legal document entrusting another person with a decision whether or not you should be kept alive, an advance health care directive is also enabling you to make your very detailed and specific end-of-life decisions known. It covers matters from whether or not you would want palliative care even if the dosage necessary to alleviate the pain speeds death. It also refers to the issues concerning your potential organ donation, autopsies, your place of burial and everything involved, along with everything else you may find relevant. An advance health care document is allowing for a virtually limitless number of options to specifically direct anything and everything concerning your wishes in case of your death.

Whether you are in a situation where you need to be thinking about your death, or you want to be responsible, getting a health care directive is the best thing you can do – for both yourself and your loved ones. Platinum Paralegals offers legal advice on any documentation you need, so don’t hesitate to talk to us about this matter.