What is an Advance Directive?

Intensive Care MonitorPeople often think estate planning is only about what happens to their property when they die, and they forget to think of what may happen if they are to fall ill and are unable to make medical decisions for themselves. Healthcare advance directives provide your doctors, loved ones, and friends, with exactly what you want to occur should you fall ill and be unable to communicate those wishes later.

Advance directives include designations of healthcare surrogates (also referred to as healthcare power of attorneys) and living wills (also referred to as personal directives, advance health care directives, and advance decision). These directives dictate to your family how long you would like to remain on life support and what type of life support services you wish to receive in the unfortunate event those decisions become necessary. These types of decisions are best made after careful thought and counsel with your medical professionals and other people you trust.

Additionally, the decision of whether to “pull the plug” is a tremendous burden on your loved ones. When a living will is in place, your loved ones can rest assured that they will not be in the position of making a life or death decision for you. Families can take comfort in knowing that your wishes are being honored.

When asked why we think an advance directive is needed, we often remind people of the highly publicized Terri Shiavo case, where a woman’s family was destroyed trying to make medical decisions for her after she fell into a vegetative state.

For more information on life-sustaining medical treatments, please visit the following pages and talk to your doctor.

American Cancer Society
Cleveland Clinic
Web MD

It is important to contact an experienced Jacksonville estate planning attorney to assist you in preparing your estate and the proper paperwork in the event of incapacity.

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