What Are Advance Health Care Directives?

We heard a lot of talk about end-of-life medical procedures during the debates surrounding health care reform, and this highlighted the reason why it is advisable to add an element of incapacity planning to your long term plan. People are living longer than ever, and the fact is that when you reach an advanced age decisions may have to be made in your behalf. For this reason it is important to let your wishes be known through the execution of advance health care directives like living wills and durable medical powers of attorney.

A living will is a document that contains your medical care preferences. Exactly what you choose to include in your living will is up to you; you can go into a lot of detail or keep it somewhat general. For many people the most important reason to draw up a living will is to express their wishes concerning life support systems and to what extent they would want to be kept alive through artificial means. One can also express their preferences pursuant to matters such as pain control and personal care and comfort in a living will.

Durable medical powers of attorney, alternately referred to as health care proxies, are legal instruments that empower a person of your choosing to make medical decisions in your behalf in the event of your incapacitation. There are those who choose to appoint a heath care proxy instead of executing a living will because it is difficult to address every possible medical scenario in a single document. Many would suggest that the best course of action is to have both a durable medical power of attorney and a living will in place. When you do this you state your wishes in writing so everyone concerned is aware of them, but you also have named someone to make decisions for you should a circumstances arise that had not been addressed in the living will.

About Ronald Morton

Ronald Morton is a Certified Elder Law Attorney practicing in the areas of wills, trusts, estate planning, probate and estate administration, asset protection planning, Medicaid planning, and Veterans benefits law throughout Mississippi.

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