An Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) is the legal document that details end-of-life wishes. Shying away from the topic is understandable, but in the long run, said
It doesn't matter if there is a large estate or a few personal items to pass on to heirs, including an AHCD and a
The AHCD specifies your wishes for medical care at the end of life, or if you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf.
In fact, without an AHCD, it's possible for the court to become involved in your end-of-life choices, especially if a close family member petitions the court to impose life-saving measures. The AHCD specifies whether or not you want life saving measures taken, what those measures are, such as a "Do Not Resuscitate Order," and authorizes a person or persons to make those final decisions when you are unable to do so. The AHCD also includes whether you want a burial, cremation, or to donate organs.
Despite, the best of intentions, simply telling someone what your end-of-life wishes are is not enough to guarantee they are honored. The person you told may no longer be available when that time arrives. In their sadness, family members may hang on to hope and insist on life prolonging measures.
An AHCD ensures:
- Your wishes for end-of-life comfort are honored, including medications, ventilating, tube feeding and resuscitation.
- Your wishes for medical care in the event you are incapacitated due to an injury or illness that you are going to survive.
- Specifies which life saving measures you want or don't want and under which conditions.
- Designates a person or persons to act as your agents on your behalf.
- Authorizes the hospital and doctor to release confidential medical information to your agents.
- Specify the circumstances under which your agents can act on your behalf, such as when your primary care doctor determines you are unable to make your own decisions.
- Whether you want to spend your last days at home if possible.
- Your organ donor wishes are honored.
- Your burial or cremation wishes are honored.
- Your bills, such as mortgage and insurance are paid.
- Your medical bills are paid.
- Only the person or persons you designate have access to your finances and can act on your behalf.
- Only the person or persons you designate can make legal decisions on your behalf.
Planning in advance for health care is important for adults of any age. Accidents happen and serious illness can befall anyone. Meeting with an estate planning attorney, such as
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