Medical emergencies happen every day. You never know when a medical crisis could leave you mentally disabled or in a constant vegetative state and unable to make your own medical decisions. This is why you should have a disability plan. One of the most common disability planning devices is an Advance Medical Directive.
Choose a Health Care Agent
If you become incapacitated, this legal document allows you to name a friend or family member to speak with your doctors on your behalf and to make medical choices for you. Your health care agent will have full access to your medical care and can make real-time decisions on your behalf. When choosing your agent, select a trustworthy person who is good under pressure and will honor your wishes.
A conservator or a guardian is a court-appointed and court-supervised individual who makes medical decisions for you. A conservatorship or guardianship puts all of your medical needs in the hands of the court. Your conservator or guardian may be slowed down by the legal process and therefore may not always be able to make quick decisions. He or she may also not be the person you would think best suited to care for your medical needs. By using an Advance Medical Directive and naming your Health Care Agent, you may avoid this problem.
Share Your Preferences
Having an Advance Medical Directive means your medical wishes will be considered. You should share your medical preferences with your chosen health care agent while you are healthy and mentally stable. You can also create a Living Will to go with your Directive. Using a Living Will with your Medical Directive allows you to state your preferences on life support and terminal illness treatment. If you don’t want to be on life support or if you want to avoid intense treatments that may do harm to your body, you can notify your health care agent and state your wishes in your Living Will.
Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.