What Are "Advanced Medical Directives" And Why Are They Important?

March 19, 2020

This article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. This is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Every case is different. Consult a licensed professional in your state. Viewing this website or its content does not create an attorney-client relationship with Lyda Law Firm or any of its lawyers.

What is an advanced medical directive? Essentially, an advance medical directive is a legal document that allows you to make certain decisions regarding your medical care, treatment preferences, and end of life decisions that will only become effective in the event that you become incapacitated or unable to make those decisions on your own behalf in the future.

There is a common misconception that only the elderly or people with existing health conditions need to have an advanced medical directive in place. This is not necessarily true. In fact, having an advanced medical directive in place is always a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected, especially in light of COVID-19 when we’re facing a health crisis on a national level. I don’t say this to alarm anybody but the reality is that we’re dealing with an unexpected situation and the future is uncertain. Planning ahead and being prepared for the unexpected can help alleviate a lot of stress and worry.

The two most common types of advanced medical directives are “living will” and the “medical power of attorney”.

A living will is a document that allows you to make decisions about future healthcare that will only take effect once you are unable to make those decisions on your own. These types of decisions include:

  • Whether to go on life support
  • Do not resuscitate orders
  • If you want pain treatments
  • If you want a feeding tube or fluids if you can’t eat or drink on your own, etc.

A medical power of attorney, on the other hand, is a legal document that allows you to dedicate an agent or a proxy to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so in the future. In general, an agent’s powers are pretty broad and your agent will have a lot of discretion. Always select somebody that you trust with this responsibility, someone who knows you and your wishes well, and someone who is comfortable carrying out these important decisions.

We know it can seem scary and intimidating to talk about these types of things, but it’s never too early to start thinking about putting these measures in place.

Our firm has recently transitioned to working remotely, but we’re actively looking for ways to provide our services while also following the guidelines and directions of the CDC and state and local authorities. Check back for updates on how we can provide these services for you, even while we’re social distancing and working from home.

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