What are Advanced Directives?

Advanced Directives are written, legal instructions by an individual regarding their preferences for future health care. These directives provide guidance for medical practitioners and family members to avoid confusion and disputes regarding your medical care and treatment. They offer peace of mind that you will not have unwanted medical procedures if you are temporarily or permanently unable to verbalize your wishes. Your medical decisions may be the result of your preferences or your cultural and religious beliefs. Advanced Directives are for all age groups, as a health crisis is unpredictable. Discussions regarding ethical and legal issues in deciding palliative or curative medical care are difficult and complex. Attorney Carsandra D. Buie is an experienced estate planning attorney that is aware of the sensitive nature of these discussions. She can answer your questions and draft health care advanced directives that are reflective of your wishes and goals.

The Two Types of Advanced Directives

1. A Health Care Surrogate

A Health Care Surrogate is a legal document that is also referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney or a Health Care Proxy. In this document, an individual called a principal, appoints a trusted person to make health care decisions in the event that a principal is incapacitated. Naming a health care surrogate involves careful consideration, as it needs to be an assertive, trusting person that can stay firm in voicing your wishes. Oftentimes in a medical crisis, there can be disputes among family members about treatment options and the health care surrogate must be able to uphold your values and wishes. A health care surrogate needs to be accessible as health care issues can rapidly unfold and require quick decision making. On a Health Care Surrogate form, an alternate can be named in the event that your primary Health Care Surrogate is unavailable. There is also a section where specific medical treatments that you wish or don’t wish to receive can be written. This form requires two witnesses but does not need to be notarized.

2. A Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document that allows a principal to write their wishes for end of life care if there is no reasonable medical probability of recovery. It negates life-prolonging procedures in the event of a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or being in a vegetative state. It gives permission for any treatment or procedure that is deemed necessary to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain. There is a place for a Health Care Surrogate to be named, in conjunction with the Living Will. Again, this form requires two witnesses and does not need to be notarized.

It is important to understand that any advanced directive can be revoked or modified at any time by the principal while they are mentally competent. The principal in both the health care surrogate and the living will must be able to understand the content of these forms and the finality of their decisions when they become incapacitated.

Attorney Carsandra D. Buie Provides Compassionate and Caring Legal Solutions

Careful planning and communication with family members about your health care wishes can minimize conflict regarding medical care during a crisis. Legal disputes can occur in the form of medical liability if a medical provider ignores your advanced directives. Attorney Carsandra D. Buie is committed to helping her clients understand their options and documenting informed decisions about their future health care. If you believe a loved one’s advanced directives have been ignored by health care professionals, Carsandra D. Buie can provide legal advice and representation. Call our office at 800-219-3297 to discuss the details of your situation.