Decisions about your health care are some of the most important you will ever make.
Don’t put off making plans until you are unable to assert your wishes. Including health care documents in your estate plan can ensure your decisions are always your choice, even if you cannot speak for yourself.
Health care documents that clearly state your wishes should be included in your comprehensive estate plan. Here are three documents you need to include in your estate plan to ensure your wishes are respected:
Health Care Directive
Also known as a Healthcare or Medical Proxy, this document allows you to name a health care agent. This will be the individual who you grant the authority to make certain medical decisions on your behalf. You may give your agent as little or as much authority as you want. A health care agent may also be called a health care surrogate or a personal representative.
In your directive, you can include specific instructions on the health care measures you desire if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These are life and death decisions; make sure your agent is someone you trust. Since your agent will advocate on your behalf, it is important to share your wishes, thoughts and opinions about your life and healthcare with your agent. Your healthcare directive can also be used to document your wishes or instructions about organ and tissue donation.
In New York, it’s also important to document or provide instructions about artificial nutrition and hydration. Unless your agent reasonably knows your wishes about artificial nutrition and hydration, they will not be able to consent or refuse hospital measures about this. You must Work closely with an estate-planning lawyer to ensure your directive provides clear guidelines for your agent to follow.
Your health care agent or personal representative will need access to your medical records in order to make educated decisions about your care. To do this, your agent will need a HIPAA authorization. This will ensure he or she has access to your medical records from HIPAA-covered health care providers.
Living Will Declaration
A living will provides specific guidelines for your end of life care. While your health care directive can include provisions for your agent to make certain decisions about your ongoing health care, a living will tells your agent how you would like end of life care decisions made, such as if and when you want life support to be removed, whether you would want hydration and nutrition and what kind of care choices should be made for you, if you cannot make them for yourself. These types of absolute decisions about your life should be included in a living will for extra protection and assurance your desires will be known and honored.
These documents, if carefully crafted, will help you express and enforce your healthcare wishes, even if you cannot speak for yourself. If you want to ensure your preferences for your ongoing and end of life care are respected, contact us to discuss your options today.
A Personal Family Lawyer® can help you articulate and legally protect your healthcare wishes and preferences. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, Maureen Pritchard can guide you to create and complete these very important health care documents so you can have the peace of mind of knowing your family will make the right choices for you, when you cannot.
This article is a service of Wheatley Pritchard & Associates PLLC, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.