Sometimes the challenging conversations are the most important ones to have. That is one reason why a Virginia-based healthcare lawyer started National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD). It’s a day set aside to get people thinking about their medical plans for the future and talking with family or loved ones about their final medical wishes.
NHDD wants you to understand the importance of talking with your family about your healthcare wishes and legally documenting them. This is where an Advance Healthcare Directive (also known as a living will) and Durable Power of Attorney comes into play.
An advance healthcare directive lets your family and health care team know what kind of medical attention you want when you can no longer make these decisions. It is often used for end-of-life care. But you don’t need to wait; you can use an advance directive if you suddenly fall ill or are in an accident.
The advance directive should describe the type of medical treatment you want or don’t want to receive. You determine the circumstances of when you want your life prolonged and when to stop medical treatments.
You decide what level of treatment to receive when that time comes. But choosing not to have aggressive treatment differs from refusing all medical care. You can still receive antibiotics, food, pain medicine or other treatment.
Also called an advance directive, a living will is a legal document that describes what is to be done if you are left incapacitated in a terminal condition because of a disease, injury, or simply old age, and can no longer communicate your healthcare wishes and goes into effect while you are still living, versus a “traditional” will that goes into effect after you die.
An advance directive only applies to life-sustaining treatment decisions due to terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is used anytime you cannot make decisions for yourself (such as a serious illness or accident).
A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document in which you have an assigned person (or “agent”) to make all healthcare decisions when you are unable to do so. It becomes active when you cannot make healthcare decisions for yourself. You can revoke the DPOA when you are well again.
Your agent must be someone you trust to understand your medical wishes and will carry out the decisions you want. The agent will be working with your healthcare team to ensure you get the kind of medical care you wish to receive.
Use National Healthcare Decision Day to begin a conversation about your medical wishes with your loved ones. Then contact us to legally document those decisions.
An Illinois estate planning lawyer can help you create an advanced healthcare directive. Consulting an experienced probate, trust and estates attorney in Chicago or Oak Brook can give you protection and peace of mind. For more information about how custom advance directives and powers of attorney could benefit you, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.