There is more to estate planning than simply deciding who gets which of your possessions and under what circumstances. It's essential also to consider your health care outcomes and the decisions you'll have to make along the way.
For that reason, an Advance Health Care Directive forms an integral part of any thorough estate plan. This document, drafted while you are of sound mind, will give medical staff and those empowered to make decisions on your behalf a guide for handling your health care decisions if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to provide consent to treatment.
An Advance Health Care Directive is a simple legally-binding document indicating your wishes regarding medical care if you can't express those wishes. Additionally, the form authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if the situation calls for it. Without an Advance Health Directive, medical staff will rely on your closest relatives to make decisions about your care.
In short, an Advance Health Care Directive is a chance to decide on your medical treatment in advance and make a plan about what type of treatment you do and do not consent to in the event of a life-threatening situation. It fulfills a similar need as a living will, and the two terms are used interchangeably in some states.
Depending on your state, an Advance Health Care Directive may also be known as:
Advance Decision Form
Advance Medical Directive
Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will
One of the most common reasons people choose to make Advance Health Care Directives is responding to a life-threatening illness or medical condition. Anyone with a reason to suspect that they may soon become incapacitated or unable to express their medical care wishes should consider executing an Advance Health Care Directive as a matter of course.
Furthermore, it's a good idea to draft an Advance Health Care Directive whether or not you have any reason to suspect you'll soon need it. A part of responsible estate planning is preparing for situations ahead of time. Having an overall plan early on can make it easier to implement small changes rather than having to draft the entire document in a state of agitation at the news of a diagnosis.
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An Advance Health Care Directive is a straightforward document, but it needs to comply with specific regulatory standards legally enforceable. With our proprietary form generator, a few necessary details about yourself and your medical care wishes are enough to generate a document that fits your jurisdiction regulations.
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To create your document, please provide:
Governing State: The state where the Advance Health Care Directive will be executed.
Personal Information: Your full name and address.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Select if you have previously granted someone medical power of attorney. If not, you'll be asked if you want to designate a health care agent in this form.
Health Care Agent: The full name and address and contact information for the person appointed to be your health care agent as well as alternate health care agents, if any.
Extent of Decision-Making Authority: Specify any limitations you wish to place on your health care agents' decision-making authority.
Living Will: Choose under what circumstances you want to receive life-sustaining treatment or whether you want the decision to rest with your authorized agent.
Additional Directives: Describe any additional directives you wish to add, such as do-not-resuscitate orders or other people with whom treatment must be discussed.
Original Version and Copies: Where the original copy of the Advance Health Care Directive will be kept and any copies' location.
Date: The effective date of the document and County where it is executed.
Terminal Condition: An illness likely to cause death or permanent unconsciousness and recovery would be rare.
HIPAA Waiver: A section of the Advance Health Care Directive allowing health care providers to release your medical history to your agent.
Conservator: A person put in charge of your finances while you are incapacitated.
Principal: The person for whom the document is drafted (i.e., whose wishes are described in the directive).
Of Sound Mind: Being in a capacity to think and reason as you would under normal circumstances.
To be legally enforceable, an Advance Health Care Directive must be signed by the principal and all the agents appointed within. It needs to be signed in the presence of two unbiased witnesses whose signatures should also be on the document, or else a notary public must notarize the signatures.
Once you've reviewed and executed the Advance Health Care Directive, keep the original for your records. Additionally, distribute a copy to each of your designated agents. It will remain in force until revoked in writing, or the original is destroyed.
The Advance Health Care Directive document does not need to be filed with any state or federal authority or records office.
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