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The Importance of Advance Health Care Directives vs. Living Wills

Why is an advance health care directive better than a living will in Pennsylvania? In June 2013, Nik Wallenda became the first man ever to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. In October of 2012, Felix Baumgartner jumped from a capsule on the edge of space, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier without the aid of a vehicle. Fred Mack, a Pennsylvanian from Newtown Square, recently celebrated his 100th birthday by jumping out of a plane. Thankfully, these stunts all went smoothly. However, the risk of serious, debilitating injury was very real. What happens when someone is seriously injured and can't make a decision about their medical care?

In Pennsylvania, the best way to plan for a serious injury or illness is with an Advance Health Care Directive. An Advance Health Care Directive combines two documents - a health care power of attorney and a living will. In a health care power of attorney, you appoint an "agent" to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. Your agent will ensure that you are admitted to hospitals and care facilities, consent to surgery and medication on your behalf, and generally ensure that there is someone able to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself.

Your living will specifies what treatments you want (or do not want) if you are ever in an "end stage medical condition". An "end stage medical condition" is a condition from which you are significantly unlikely to recover. A permanent vegetative state or late-stage terminal cancer are examples of end-stage conditions. The living will answers questions such as, do you want tube feedings? Do you want to be put on a ventilator? Do you want to be an organ donor? Do you want doctors to make all efforts towards helping you recover? Or would you rather be made comfortable?

An advance health care directive is a gift to your loved ones. By planning ahead, you ensure that you will spend quality time with your family and friends, rather than having them squabble and agonize over treatment options. Prepare your advance health care directive and protect yourself and those you love. If you have questions about advance health care directives or other estate planning issues, please call our Estate Planning Attorney at 724-940-0100 or  /Estate-Planning-Administration-Litigation/Administration-Probate.shtml/Estate-Planning-Administration-Litigation/Administration-Probate.shtml 

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