Living wills and medical or health care powers of attorney are advance directives that provide written, legal instructions concerning your medical care in the event you are unable to make these decisions yourself. By preparing these documents, you can express your wishes and offer guidance to doctors and caregivers if you are in a coma, seriously injured, suffering from dementia, or terminally ill. In many situations, individuals take the time to prepare medical directives but fail to inform their doctors or healthcare surrogates of the existence of these documents. Follow these simple steps to be sure that your medical directives will be carried out.
Make sure that your medical directives are in writing. State requirements vary for creating legal documents and in some states, the documents must be witnessed or notarized.
Once you have completed your medical directives, review the documents carefully to be sure you have accurately expressed your wishes. Share these documents with your doctor and healthcare surrogate to be sure you have filled them out correctly.
Keep the original copies of your medical directives in a safe place that is easily accessible for family members and others.
Make several copies of your medical directives. Give copies to your doctors and ask them to include it as part of your permanent medical record. Provide copies to your healthcare surrogate and any alternate agents. Maintain a record of who has been given copies of your medical directives and keep this record with your original in a safe place.
Discuss the existence of your medical directives with family members and other important individuals. It is helpful to let them know that you have prepared these documents as well as to inform them of your wishes and answer any questions they may have.
If you are traveling, take a copy of your medical directives with you. It is also helpful to carry a card in your wallet indicating that you have prepared medical directives and providing contact information for your healthcare surrogate.
While thinking about end of life planning is uncomfortable, it is an important step in ensuring you receive the medical care you want and helps to avoid any confusion regarding the choices that should be made. In times of crisis or grief, advance medical directives also alleviate the stress on loved ones who will be confronted with making these decisions on your behalf.
Addressing end of life medical decisions is never easy. The Maryland estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates understand that – we have been helping individuals and families consider these decisions for more than 40 years. Our experienced team develops individually tailored estate plans designed to meet your needs and reach your long-term financial goals. Contact one of our estate planning specialists today to arrange a consultation to discuss your medical directives and other estate planning needs. Call our office at 301-468-3220 or arrange an appointment online.