Advance Directives

happy_senior_couple.jpg Advance Directives specify what should be done for your health.

Advance Directives (often mis-written as "advanced directives") are two types of documents that can be authored to give guidance to your loved ones, your trustee, your attorney-in-fact, and your healthcare provider regarding your medical treatment if you become unable to make decisions. They include:
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Healthcare Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney) allows you to designate an attorney-in-fact, also known as a Healthcare Proxy or a “patient advocate,” to make medical decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated. The document only becomes effective when you are unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for yourself. In a particular situation, your healthcare provider will determine whether you are competent to make an informed decision about your medical care. Click here to learn more about Healthcare Powers of Attorney.
Do Not Resuscitate order
DNR orders are used to request not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. There are several reasons why you might choose to decline CPR. You may think that you may want to die as peacefully as possible without one or more resuscitations, or your religion may oppose certain medical treatments. Furthermore, you may believe that CPR can be a traumatic experience you may want to avoid. Others acknowledge that patients over 70 who receive CPR seldom regain health sufficient for them to leave the hospital. Thus, people have many reasons to create a DNR order. Click here for more information about Do Not Resuscitate orders.
Even if you have a Healthcare Power of Attorney you should consider a Do Not Resuscitate order. A Healthcare Power of Attorney takes effect only in the event that you are unable to make medical care decisions for yourself. Therefore, if you are mentally competent at the moment your heart and breathing stop, the advance directive does not take effect, and without a DNR order your wishes might not be honored. In some hospitals, a DNR order also implies an order to not perform intubation machine assisted respiration), although you may want to consider including a DNI (Do Not Intubate) clause in your DNR order.
Although the issues addressed by these documents are similar , it is a good idea to study which ones may be right for your situation. You may also consider having one or more authored, because regulations can vary greatly from state to state and hospital to hospital, and not every document is recognized in all places. Advance Directives are a standard part of the estate planning process that we help our clients complete.  Please contact us if you'd like to learn more about what we can do for you.

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