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Demystifying Advance Health Care Directive

May 24, 2022

An Advance Directive for Health Care or “advance directive” is simply a document that gives you the opportunity to describe how your family members should make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapable of making them yourself.

Why Is It Important to Have It?

This document could play an important role making “life or death” decisions – your life or death. First, if a situation ever arises where you are unable to make your own medical decisions, you would likely want to be treated in line with your beliefs and wishes. Advance directive gives you the perfect place to state your beliefs and wishes. Also, the burden of making major health care decisions can be extremely heavy, if not unbearable, for your relatives. Having an advance directive for medical care that states your treatment preference will ease the pain of already distraught relatives. It will allow them to approve necessary medical choices with clear consciousness. Lastly, with this document in place, medical professionals can make vital medical decisions quickly. Those hours or even minutes saved could spare your life or the life of another.

Who Should Have a Copy of Your Advance Health Care Directive?

Your relatives, health care team, the healthcare facility where you receive treatment, and any other person who might be called in an event of a medical emergency should have a copy of this document. Ideally, you have an advance directive as part of your estate plan, but it does not have to be. Speak to your medical professional about preparing your advance directive if you don’t’ have one. Notably, healthcare facilities cannot require advance directives from patients, but it is wise for the patient to have one.

Will an Advance Health Care Directive Affect Your Assets?

No. Advance directives apply only to health care decisions and do not affect your financial assets or property.

Can Advance Health Care Directive Be Changed?

Yes, your Advance Directive for Health Care can be changed or revoked (canceled). Life circumstances change, health conditions change, and people's beliefs change. It is recommended that you review this document from time to time and reevaluate any medical decisions you have made to ensure that they continue to accurately reflect your wishes. If any changes are made, it is important to provide an updated version to all persons who had the previous version of this document.

Also, keep in mind that advance health care directive laws vary from state to state. If you recently moved to another state, check to see if your advance directive is valid under the laws of your new state or needs to be updated.

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Click here to Schedule a FREE Virtual Estate Planning Session. We’ll walk you through the process and help you prepare, review or update your estate planning documents to ensure your loved ones are taken care of, no matter what.


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