Advance Health Care Directives and Living Wills

An Advance Health Care Directive is an essential document in any estate plan. This document not only acts as a health care power of attorney but also as a living will. Some people believe their family "knows" their wishes and do not want one. However, what happens when a family member or friend disputes what another person says are your wishes? For example, a widower father might say his children know that he does not want tube feeding. However, what if they do not really know that or one of the children has a problem with honoring that wish? That is where an Advance Health Care Directive can be a crucial document to end any disputes among the children or family members.

What does the Advance Health Care Directive do for purposes of medical care?

This question refers more to the document's function as a health care power of attorney. If you are in a car accident or are going in for a routine surgery, your doctor's will be able to speak with your agent on your condition and your agent can make decisions on your behalf if you are not able to. It can overcome the Health Information Portability Protection Act (otherwise known as "HIPPA") to open the lines of communication between the agent and medical provider.

In light of the frequent litigation among family members over a loved one's medical care, we have made our Advance Health Care Directive very comprehensive. It gives specific directions for specific events and is not a check box form. Our Estate Planning Attorneys customize the document for any special instructions for your agent.

How does the Advance Health Care Directive function as a living will?

If you, as the Principal, are in an end stage medical condition (i.e. terminally ill or in a state of permanent unconsciousness), the Advance Health Care Directive, gives instructions to your agent on what end of life medical treatments and procedures you wish to have or not have. For instance, you can decide whether you want tube feeding and if so, how long do you want it for? You can direct your agent to ensure your organs are donated for purposes of organ transplant, education and/or science. You can instruct your agent that in the event of severe brain damage, that you want or do not want aggressive medical care.

The experienced Estate Planning Attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC know the issues that can arise in the event a person does not have an Advance Health Care Directive. Often times, families litigate who should make medical decisions for a loved one and what medical decision should be made. This can be a costly and painful endeavor for family and friends. If you need to update your living will to a more comprehensive Advance Health Care Directive, please call the knowledgeable attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100 for a free consultation.