If you can’t communicate your own healthcare wishes, either temporarily or permanently, the court may need to get involved. This usually means lawyers (and money!), and you have no control over who will be chosen or how decisions will be made. If you want to be in control over your future healthcare decisions you must take steps today, while you still can!
Most people assume that if you suffer an injury or illness that leaves you unable to communicate your own healthcare wishes, someone in your family will be able to tell the doctors what to do or choose a nursing home for you. This is often not the case, and many families end up going to court to set up a guardianship just to make these basic decisions.
And even if the doctors listen to someone in your family, is it the person who will make the decisions that are best for you? Will they honor your wishes? Will they even know your wishes for the variety of decisions they’ll have to make?
If you can’t communicate your own healthcare wishes, either temporarily or permanently, there are several documents you’ll want to consider having in place to enable someone else to navigate healthcare decisions for you and ensure you get the care you deserve. These include a Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Universal HIPAA Release. More information about these documents can be found here.
The healthcare directives can only go so far, and should serve not as the final word on how you want decisions to be made, but simply a starting point. Once you complete your medical directives, the most important thing you can do is have a comprehensive discussion with your loved ones about why you filled out the documents the way that you did. Give them an understanding of how you want decisions to be made and what quality of life really means to you.
When a crisis comes, most family members err toward the side of keeping us alive, sometimes long after we would have wanted our lives to medically continue. Just because your life can technically be prolonged with medical assistance doesn’t mean it should be, and you can be in control of how those decisions are made.
There are a number of resources to help you have these conversations, and one of the best starting places may be The Conversation Project.
For more information about making sure you’re in control of all future healthcare decisions, call our office to schedule a Personal Consultation, or join us for one of our upcoming Estate Planning Workshops!
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