As you think about your future, it’s important to start thinking about your estate plan. This includes making decisions about your healthcare and who will make those decisions for you in the event of incapacity. A Healthcare Directive is an important document within an estate plan. It provides guidance for your loved ones and medical providers about the kind of care you want to receive if you are seriously ill or injured, and unable to communicate your wishes. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of having a Healthcare Directive in your estate plan.

What is a Healthcare Directive, and why is it important to have one within your estate plan?

A Healthcare Directive is a document that allows you to specify your wishes concerning medical care in the event of an emergency or if you become unable to communicate those wishes. This can be in the form of 1) a Living Will, which provides instructions related to medical treatment, or 2) a Healthcare Power of Attorney that designates a trusted decision-maker to act on your behalf, if needed. A Healthcare Directive can help protect your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions during difficult times. By providing detailed instructions regarding your desired course of action for various medical scenarios, you can ensure that any decisions made regarding your care will reflect and preserve your values and preferences.

A Healthcare Directive is also beneficial in terms of estate planning. It allows you to specify who will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf, if needed, ensuring that they are someone you trust and who understands your wishes. Within an estate plan, a Healthcare Directive also provides the opportunity to be proactive in the planning of your health decisions and have the confidence that your loved ones will not be left with uncertain decisions or conflicts when it comes time for action.

Moreover, having a Healthcare Directive in place can provide protection against potential abuse or neglect by medical providers. It allows you to specify exactly what kind of treatments you would like to receive (or not receive) under certain circumstances, protecting you from receiving unwanted medical care. Additionally, if held within an estate plan, a Healthcare Directive can provide clarity around legal issues such as do-not-resuscitate orders in the event of prolonged unconsciousness or terminal illness, or organ donation.
In conclusion, a Healthcare Directive is an essential document within any comprehensive estate plan; it provides peace of mind by allowing you to designate the person(s) you wish to make medical decisions on your behalf and to specify exactly what kind of treatments and services you would like (or don’t want) in the event of an emergency or upon incapacitation, while helping protect your loved ones from making difficult decisions on your behalf without clear guidance.

What information should be included in a Healthcare Directive?

A Healthcare Directive covers several essentials for making decisions in case of incapacitation. These may include choosing a doctor, stating any wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, outlining preferences for end-of-life care, specifying who will make medical decisions on one’s behalf (also known as an agent), and if desired, listing possible medical treatments that should not be used or discontinued. It is especially important to include detailed instructions related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and artificial nutrition and hydration. Additionally, identifying preferred medically experienced individuals to consult when making decisions regarding Healthcare Directives is also vital.

While Healthcare Directives can provide indispensable information for decision-making in any emergency, skimping on details can leave individuals with inadequate information to assist them during such times; therefore, it is essential for the document to be well thought out and comprehensive.
When creating a Healthcare Directive, it is essential to take time to consider all possible scenarios and details that could arise in order to ensure that the document is comprehensive enough to cover every eventuality while being broad enough not to tie down loved ones with difficult choices which are not clearly outlined in the Healthcare Directive. In addition, individuals must remember that their own healthcare preferences may change over time so they must regularly update their directives accordingly. Finally, individuals must be sure that their family knows where these documents are located so they can easily access them when needed. Having this information readily available can help reduce stress during an already difficult time by ensuring that everyone involved knows exactly what the individual wanted for themselves.

How can you ensure that your Healthcare Directive will be followed if you become incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes?

Creating a Healthcare Directive is an essential step in protecting your wishes if you become incapacitated or unable to communicate them yourself. There are several critical steps to take that will ensure that the Healthcare Directive you have written is followed, even when you are no longer able to communicate clearly. One of the most important steps is ensuring the document is legally binding. Each state has laws outlining what makes a Healthcare Directive legally binding. Please check your state laws or consult with an attorney to determine those requirements. Additionally, it is vital that the document be accessible in an emergency; store a copy with the named agent to ensure they have what is needed on-hand in an emergency or with your treating physician. Your agent does not want to search through your home to find this document in an emergency.

Finally, do not hesitate to discuss your Healthcare Directive with your doctor and other medical personnel who might be involved in your treatment: make sure they understand the contents and agree to follow your wishes. Taking these proactive steps now can provide peace of mind for all parties involved whenever medical decisions may need to be made on your behalf in the future.

What are some other important estate planning documents that everyone should have in place, in addition to a Healthcare Directive?

In addition to a Healthcare Directive, other documents you should consider include:

  • A Last Will and Testament: A Last Will and Testament provides for naming a Personal Representative or Executor to handle your affairs upon death and outlines who you wish to inherit your assets upon death.
  • A trust document: A trust document allows for the management and allocation of assets upon incapacitation or death. This type of legal document can be tailored to meet the needs and wishes of the individual, providing peace of mind in knowing that their assets will be handled according to their specific instructions. A trust document also enables individuals to appoint someone with the authority to make financial decisions for the assets the trust owns if they become incapacitated. It is important for everyone who has assets or property they wish to protect upon disability or after death, as it ensures those assets are distributed in accordance with one’s wishes. When prepared correctly, a trust document can also help avoid probate.
  • A durable Power of Attorney: A durable Power of Attorney is an important legal document that allows you to appoint someone with the authority to make financial and property decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to do so yourself. This document can prevent the need for court intervention to appoint a Conservator or Guardian to make financial decisions.

Where can you go for more information or help with creating a Healthcare Directive or other estate planning documents?

If you are interested in creating a Healthcare Directive or other estate planning documents, it is important to find trustworthy sources for additional information. Fortunately, there are a wide range of resources available. Many states have websites dedicated to estate planning rules and regulations. Universities and law schools host seminars or clinics designed to guide individuals in the creation of these documents. Additionally, national trust companies, like Members Trust Company, can assist you through the process from start to finish.

Overall, a Healthcare Directive is an essential component of an estate plan. Having the right information included in your Healthcare Directive is key to ensuring that your wishes are followed if you become incapacitated. Moreover, in addition to a Healthcare Directive, having other important estate planning documents in place such as a Power of Attorney or a Trust may also be beneficial for carrying out your final wishes. If you would like more information about creating your own Healthcare Directive or other estate planning documents, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Trust services provided by Members Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Trust and Investment products are not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured. May lose value including the possible loss of principal. No financial institution guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant.