Creating a legally valid advanced health care directive is a complicated process that should be completed with a lawyer. Without some essential legal procedures, your health directive could be invalidated once you are unable to speak for yourself.
Most health care directives today are based on the Lifecare Advance Directive. This comprehensive document included more than 1,000 participating patients in its creation and used more than 6,000 research articles to form the body of the text. Its one drawback — it can be tedious to fill out.
The Five Wishes directive is another popular health care document for end of life decisions. This document is not recognized in all 50 states but remains popular with Catholic patients as it was endorsed by Mother Teresa.
The Medical Directive created by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School is an excellent resource for patients looking to understand typical medical decisions that happen for terminally ill patients. The document outlines six case scenarios and asks that the patient make decisions accordingly. In its original form, family members and medical personnel were then asked to apply the decision making process to real life situations. Because the document allowed room for interpretation, it has fallen out of favor as a final advanced care directive.
Finally, the Values History from Georgetown University School of Medicine was an effort to focus on values instead of medical procedures. This remains an important instrument for patients looking to learn about advance care directives, but is generally not used in estate planning.Read More
The move into a nursing home is typically trying and difficult for the senior citizen and the close family members. Sometimes this change comes with dismantling a family home and selling the majority of the senior’s belongings. Once the senior family member is settled, however, reassessing the living will, DNR order, and the health care directive is a critical next step.
Typically, a shift in residency to a nursing home forces the family to review the estate plan. However, the health care directive is often pushed aside or forgotten because of the litany of other decisions.
Fortunately, a nursing home staff is well-equipped to help you gather some important options for end-of-life decisions. While you should ask a lawyer to write and review the health care directive, the nursing home staff can offer some much needed advice on real-life circumstances. Specifically, a nursing home staff has seen every variation of family structure and will be able to give you a few examples of unexpected problems and the corresponding unique solutions.
For example, the closest family member — who should be responsible for last minute decisions — could live thousands of miles away from the nursing home. And while he or she might be willing and able to jump on a plane and fly on a moment’s notice, sickness and death don’t want for an airplane to land. A nursing home staff can help you construct some contingency plans for difficult or unexpected problems.
While the intent of putting a senior citizen into a nursing home is ease-of-care and long-term comfort, there will be a prolonged period of difficult transition. Don’t ignore all of the challenges in this difficult time. Embrace the difficulties as a way for the entire family to rest easy once the transition is complete.
As part of your Health Care Directive, you will have to decide if you want some or all of your organs donated. If you strongly believe that you want your organs donated, you should contact a lawyer to ensure this is clearly spelled out in a legal document. Do not assume that because your driver’s license says “organ donor” your organs will be donated.
Organ donation is a sensitive and difficult question for family members. Frequently, religious beliefs become part of the conversations about organ donation. If you have differing opinions about organ donation within your family, you should make the choice now and document your decision. Once you are ill or once you have passed away, it is too late to have a healthy conversation about tissue donation.
There are several choices when it comes to organ donation and the options may vary because of where you live. However, you generally choose the organs and tissues you want to donate. In addition, you can opt as to how you want your organs to be used: transplant, therapy, research, or education.
Once you have made your choices about organ donation and documented the choice with an estate planner/lawyer, discuss your directive with your family. When you are sick, there will be more important matters on which to focus.Read More
In late 2013 and early 2014, the Munoz family became part of a national debate regarding health care directives. The majority of the discussion revolved around the fate of the unborn child of a brain dead wife and mother, Marlise Munoz. While this case was an extreme and unusual case, it brought to light the need for everyone to have a professionally written health care directive.
Prior to this case, there were probably very few health care directives that included this particularly unlikely scenario. However, the content of a homemade health care directive and the content of one written by an estate attorney can be the difference between a peaceful end of life and one filled with familial conflict. Regardless of your religious views on life and death issues, creating a comprehensive end of life plan will ensure that you will not be the subject of guilt, regret, or conflict.
A good estate attorney will ask you a series of questions about various medical scenarios. (It’s likely your lawyer will now include the scenario brought to light by the Munoz family.) With the ever-advancing state of medical care, you will have more and more options as to how you would like to live if you became incapacitated. Be prepared for some difficult questions about various quality of life issues. In fact, you should request a list of those questions from your lawyer before sitting down and providing answers.
The Munoz family had been responsible in having a thorough conversation with each other about end of life issues. Now, go one step further for yourself. See an estate lawyer.
Source: Miller, Tracy. December 23, 2013. “Texas man wants pregnant wife taken off life support” New York Daily NewsRead More
A health care directive is a written legal document that explains your wishes to other people about your health. You can name someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to decide for yourself. It allows you to identify an agent if you want someone make health care decisions for you.
A written directive is a tool you can use if your doctor determines that you cannot communicate your health care choices for yourself. Your written directive can state, in some circumstances, that you want someone other than your doctor to make decisions when you cannot make them yourself.
You do not have to have a health care directive, but by having one it helps to ensure your wishes are followed as you instructed. Anyone can still receive medical treatment even if they don’t have a written directive. Providers will listen to the people close to you about your wishes, but the most effective way to be sure your wishes are followed is to have it put in writing. To make a health care directive, you need to be over 18 years old.
There are pre-printed forms available for completing a health care directive, but you don’t have to use a form. But a health care directive must be in writing and meet specific requirements in order to be valid. Your directive needs to be signed by you or the person you are authorizing, and it needs to be notarized or have two witnesses. You can include the designation of an agent to make health care choices for you according to your instructions.
When you have completed and verified your written directive, it’s important that you inform the people closest to you and provide them with a copy. You may want to inform family members, your health care agents, and your health care providers. It’s a good idea to review and update it as your needs change. Be sure to keep the original copy of your health care directive in a safe place where it can be easily found by you and your family.
Before preparing or revising a written directive, it’s always a good idea to discuss your intentions and instructions with your doctor.Read More