There may come a time in your life when you require medical attention or treatment, and you are unable to communicate with physicians coherently. As scary as this thought may be, it is essential to be proactive and prepare for this event with a Living Will, Advance Directives and a Power of Attorney.
There are two documents that you will need to complete. The first document is the health care directive. This document‘s function is to give the power to the person you designate to make medical decisions when you are not able to make them. The second document you will need is the power of attorney. This document functions to designate your financial power of attorney. The person you have chosen will have the ability to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to.
1. Health Care Directive
A Health Care Directive is a document that outlines your medical wishes and preferences in the case of an accident or any event where you are unable to communicate with physicians or family lucidly. A health care directive will help prevent situations where your family members fight over what medical decision to make on your behalf and hope they did what you would have wanted. Think of the Terri Schiavo case, parents fought with her husband for 15 years on whether to terminate her treatment.
Your health care directive will not only allow you to direct when to “pull the plug,” but will enable you to voice your range of medical preferences. Your preferences can range from specific treatments or procedures you would prefer in individual events, to your preferred pain medications.
It is important to keep in mind that your physician ultimately has the final word regarding your medical well-being. They, too, adhere to the preferences outlined in your health care directive. However, as long as there are no liability or ethical issues with your directives, most doctors will comply with your outlined wishes.
You should consult your doctor(s) about your health care directive to get their professional input and advice. Consulting with your doctor is an excellent time to inform them of the information you would like to put in your health care directive. While you discuss, you can directly ask your doctor if they will comply with the directives. A blessing from your doctors will give you peace of mind.
2. Power of Attorney
You will need to understand the difference between a general power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney. The general power of attorney is someone whom you have appointed to more generally make decisions for you if you are unable to do so, including financial decisions. On the other hand, the healthcare power of attorney is much more specific. This person is one whom you have appointed to be in charge of your healthcare decisions in the case of you being unable to do so. Keep in mind that the power of attorney is an extremely powerful tool and you need to keep it is a safe place.