An advanced health care directive is one of the cornerstones of an effective estate plan. Without it, doctors may use medical procedures you do not approve of if you are not capable of telling them not to. Family members can be left to make excruciating decisions based only on what they think you would want.
As a minor, your parents had the legal authority to make decisions about treatments you would receive on your behalf. Once you are an adult in the eyes of the law, you can determine who has that power to speak on your behalf if you’re unable to speak for yourself. You could still choose your parents, or you may prefer someone else.
You can detail specific wishes, such as under what conditions you wish to be taken off life support. You can make changes to the directive throughout your life when they’re warranted. Following are two examples.
When you decide someone else should have the decision-making power
Maybe you decide that your partner or a close friend should replace your parents as the person with power of attorney over your health care. Maybe you’ve just gotten divorced and want to take your ex’s name off the document.
When the end is near
If a doctor tells you your time is limited, it can alter your perspective on life radically. You might need to revise your health care directive to be more specific to your condition and prospects.
Getting legal help with your health care directive is the best way to ensure it works as it should when needed.