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Advance Healthcare Directives: Understanding the Basics - Reyes Law Group

Advance Healthcare Directives: Understanding the Basics

Good estate planning doesn’t just dictate what will happen to your assets after you pass away. A well-devised estate plan can also determine how your affairs will be handled while you’re still living. For instance, you can use your estate plan to express your wishes about what should happen to you and your assets if you are ill or injured and unable to communicate your desires. Today’s blog post is about a tool that allows you to do just that — it’s called an advance healthcare directive. 

You may associate these ideas with a “Living Will.” A Living Will is a type of advance healthcare directive, but only one of many. To make it simple, we can break down advance healthcare directives into three groups.

Group One: Living Wills

Living Wills are used to declare your intentions regarding particular healthcare decisions. Do you want palliative care? Do you want to be tube fed? Do you want to be an organ donor? You can use a Living Will to answer these types of questions “on the record.”

Group Two: Medical Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a document through which you grant another person the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. The Power of Attorney will need to be durable in order for the person to continue to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. 

Group Three: DNR Orders

DNR stands for “do not resuscitate.” If you make a do not resuscitate order, doctors will not attempt to keep you alive if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. They will allow natural death rather than trying to bring you back through means such as CPR, including electric shock to restart the heart.

Next, we’ll answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about advance healthcare directives.

When do advance healthcare directives expire?

For the most part, they don’t. In general, your advance healthcare directives will remain valid unless or until you take action to change them. For this reason, it is very important to revisit them periodically to make sure they are up to date with your current desires and intentions. One exception is a Power of Attorney that is not durable. If it is not durable, it will not be effective if you are incapacitated.

Who needs an advance healthcare directive?

At Reyes Law Group, we recommend them for just about everyone. Anyone could be injured in a car accident or suffer an unexpected medical emergency at any moment, regardless of their age, as scary as that is. In fact, we recommend young adults create advance healthcare directives as soon as possible after their 18th birthday. Many assume their parents will be able to continue to make decisions on their behalf if anything happens, but in fact, once you’re legally an adult, your parents cannot be involved in your medical care without your express permission.

I’m ready to create an advance healthcare directive. Where do I begin?

To create these documents, you will need the assistance of an attorney with estate planning experience. The Reyes Legal team is here to help. Contact us by calling us at (954) 369-1993 or at today to get started.