The truth is, no one ever truly knows what the future holds, which is why you need to do everything possible now to prepare for unanticipated situations, including medical emergencies. For many, a crucial part of this preparation includes a healthcare directive.
Living Will: A living will is a legal instrument that sets forth your wishes in regards to the use, or non-use, of life-sustaining treatment — including artificial life support — should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to make your own healthcare decisions. Importantly, a living will only applies to care that artificially postpones death, meaning doctors will still provide comfort care when appropriate, including necessary measures to reduce pain.
Healthcare Power of Attorney: A healthcare power of attorney allows you to authorize another person (your agent) to make decisions regarding your medical care should you be unable to make these decisions for yourself. Unlike a living will, which only applies in limited end-of-life situations, a healthcare power of attorney applies in any situation in which you have lost the capacity to make informed medical decisions for yourself.
While you may not think you need a healthcare directive, you may be wrong. Here are three reasons why everyone should consider having a healthcare directive:
An accident can happen to anyone: Regardless of your age or health, a serious accident can threaten your life and wellbeing. Thinking it can’t happen to you will only cause problems if tragedy does strike.
It gives you control: A healthcare directive allows you to have more control over your medical treatment, particularly when it comes to end-of-life medical decisions. Without a healthcare directive, you may have no say at all.
It helps avoid unnecessary fights: As you can imagine, family members may have different ideas when it comes to your medical treatment, especially during end-of-life situations. Having a healthcare directive in place helps minimize these disputes since your wishes are already known and/or a decision-maker has already been named.
Every person’s situation is different, however, which is why you should speak with an experienced legal professional today to learn how a healthcare directive can help you plan for unforeseen circumstances.