According to a study conducted by Heath Affairs, of the almost 800,000 questioned people, only 1/3 of them had advance directives completed in their estate plan.
Understanding advance directives and knowing when to write them is important for ensuring that your loves ones respect your medical wishes when you cannot communicate them.
What do advance directives do?
Advance directives are legally binding documents that allow you to express your medical wishes and appoint a trusted person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. They play a vital role in ensuring that you follow your desires in situations where you cannot communicate or make decisions about your medical treatment.
The two types of advance directives
There are two types of advance directives. A living will lets you document your preferences regarding medical treatments if you become incapacitated or unable to express your wishes. It guides your family and healthcare providers about the kind of medical care you desire, especially at the end of life.
A medical power of attorney enables you to appoint a trusted individual, known as a healthcare proxy, to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you cannot do so. Your healthcare proxy acts as your representative and ensures that your medical choices align with your values and preferences.
When should you write advance directives?
It is essential to write advance directives while you can still make decisions about your medical care. Waiting until a medical emergency occurs or when you cannot communicate can leave your loved ones uncertain about your wishes. By having advance directives in place early on, you ensure that your loved ones know and respect your preferences during challenging times. Many find that they are more apt to write their directives as they start to age, face chronic or terminal illnesses, get major surgeries or face changes in their health.
Consider discussing advance directives with your healthcare provider and loved ones to ensure that your medical choices align with your values and wishes.