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Starting your Estate Planning journey? Don't forget about these 10 Healthcare Directives.

When it comes to estate planning, many people focus on wills, trusts, asset distribution, and estate taxes. While these are crucial components, healthcare directives often take a backseat.

But making sure your medical wishes are known and respected is an important part of any comprehensive estate plan.

Healthcare directives are an important part of any estate plan, even if you're planning for your young family. Here are ten possible healthcare directives you should consider as part of your estate plan.

  1. Living Will

  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney

  3. DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order)

  4. Organ Donation

  5. CPR Directive

  6. Comfort Care Directives

  7. Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

  8. Ventilator Use

  9. Medication Preferences

  10. Healthcare Directive Reviews

Living Will

A living will, also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive, is a foundational element of your healthcare directives. It allows you to document your preferences for medical treatments in case you become incapacitated and unable to communicate.

With a living will, you can specify whether you want life-sustaining treatments, such as artificial ventilation or tube feeding, to be administered under specific circumstances. This directive ensures your healthcare choices are respected, even when you cannot express them yourself.

young family with baby healthcare directives

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPA), also known as a healthcare proxy or medical power of attorney, is a legal document that is an essential part of your healthcare directives. It appoints a trusted individual as your healthcare agent or proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so, for example, if you were in a car accident and could not communicate.

The healthcare agent you appoint has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. This includes decisions about treatments, procedures, medications, surgery, and other healthcare matters.

Your healthcare agent serves are your advocate, ensuring that medical professionals are aware of your wishes, values, and preferences when making healthcare decisions.

Your healthcare agent communicates with your loved ones and keeps them informed about your medical condition and the decisions being made.

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order)

A DNR order is a special healthcare directive indicating that you do not wish to be resuscitated if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.

This directive is essential for individuals who have determined that the potential benefits of resuscitation do not align with their quality-of-life goals or medical condition.

Organ Donation

Your healthcare directives should also address organ donation preferences. Indicate whether you wish to donate organs, tissues, or your entire body for transplantation, medical research, or educational purposes.

This is a choice that many opt for as a part of their healthcare directives. By documenting your organ donation choices, you contribute to saving lives and advancing medical science.

CPR Directive

In some cases, individuals may want specific instructions regarding CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). You can outline your preferences, such as the circumstances under which you’d like CPR administered or withheld. This part of your medical directives ensures that medical professionals have clear guidance on your CPR preferences.

Comfort Care Directives

Comfort care health directives, also known as comfort care orders or comfort care plans, are a subset of healthcare directives that focus on providing compassionate and supportive care to individuals facing serious illnesses, advanced stages of diseases, or end-of-life situations.

These directives prioritize the relief of suffering, symptom management, and enhancing the patient’s quality of life, rather than aggressive life-prolonging treatments. Key components of comfort care directives may include:

  • Pain management
  • Hospice care
  • Palliative car
  • Spirit and emotional support

Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

Deciding whether to receive artificial nutrition and hydration (such as feeding tubes or intravenous fluids) can be a complex healthcare decision. Your healthcare directives should include your preferences regarding the use of these interventions.

When making decisions about this healthcare directive, you should consider factors like your medical condition and quality of life.

Ventilator Use

Ventilators are medical devices used to assist with breathing in critical situations. You can express your preferences for ventilator use.

You can specify when you would want to be placed on a ventilator, and when you would prefer to not receive this intervention.

Antibiotic and Medication Preferences

Documenting your preferences for antibiotic use and other medications is essential, especially in situations where infections or chronic conditions may require treatment.

You can specify your choices regarding antibiotic therapy, pain medications, and other drug interventions.

doctor holding patient's hand at hospital healthcare directives

Healthcare Directive Reviews

Periodically reviewing your healthcare directives is crucial to ensure they remain up-to-date and aligned with your current values and medical condition.

There are many life changes that would constitute a reason to update your healthcare directives.

Reasons to Update Healthcare Directives

  • Change in Medical Condition

If you experience significant change in your health, diagnosis, or medical prognosis, your preferences for medical treatment may need to be revised to reflect your current situation and wishes.

  • Change in Personal Beliefs

As your beliefs, values, or religious views evolve, you may want to update your healthcare directives to ensure that your medical decisions align with your current views.

  • Change in Family or Relationship

Marriage, divorce, the birth of children, or changes in significant relationships can impact your choice of a healthcare agent or the individuals you want to involve in your healthcare decisions.

  • Relocation

Moving to a different state or country may require to update your healthcare directives. Laws and regulations vary from state to state, so ensuring that yours align with the local regulations is important.

  • Change in Financial Status

Significant changes in your financial situation can affect your ability to access certain medical treatments or services, leading to revisions in your healthcare directives.

  • New Medical Treatment or Advances

Advances in medical technology and treatment options may lead you to reconsider your preferences for specific medical interventions or procedures.

  • Changes in the Law

Changes in state or federal laws related to healthcare directives may impact the validity or interpretation of your existing documents, necessitating updates to ensure compliance with current legal requirements.

  • Review Timeline

Reviewing your healthcare directives periodically, even without significant life changes, is advised to make sure they still reflect your wishes accurately.

  • Advance Care Planning

Having conversations with your healthcare agent, attorney, and loved ones about your medical preferences and end-of-life care can lead to revisions in your healthcare directives.

Including Healthcare Directives in Your Estate Plan

Healthcare directives are often overlooked when thinking about the basics of estate planning, yet they play a vital role in protecting your medical wishes and ensuring you receive care in line with your values.

These ten essential healthcare directives empower you to make informed decisions about your healthcare and provide clear guidance to your loved ones and healthcare providers.

To create and maintain a clear set of healthcare directives, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of healthcare decision-making and ensure your medical preferences are respected throughout your lifetime.

Fischetti Law Group is an experienced law firm in Boynton Beach that can help you begin your estate planning journey in the new year. If you need to add healthcare directives to your estate plan, add directives for your digital assets, or make other changes to your existing estate plan, Fischetti Law Group can help you get this accomplished. Call or text 833-MIKE-247 for a free estate planning consultation today.



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