When you decide to do some research into estate planning you will invariably see a number of legal instruments referred to that you may not be entirely familiar with. Advance health care directives can fall into this category for many people, so we would like to provide a brief overview to give you an idea of what these vehicles are intended to achieve and why they are important.
The most commonly used advance health care directives are the living will and the durable medical power of attorney or health care proxy. People are living longer than ever, and these expanding lifespans increase the possibility of a period of incapacity at some point. And of course people of all ages can become incapacitated as a result of an accident or due to a sudden and unexpected illness. Advance health care directives are documents that you can use to state your wishes with regard to medical matters in advance should you become unable to communicate them.
With a living will you can directly communicate the types of medical procedures you would be willing to accept and those that you would prefer to deny in the event of your incapacitation. The core issue in most living wills is the matter of being kept alive through the use of artificial life support systems when there is no hope for recovery.
The durable medical power of attorney is used to select someone that you empower to make health care decisions in your behalf should you become unable to make them for yourself due to incapacity. The reason why many people execute both of these advance health care directives is because it can be difficult to address every possible medical contingency in a living will. When you name a health care proxy, he or she can act in your behalf in situations that may not be covered in the living will.