What Are Advance Directives?
As we get older there are a lot of things that we need to start considering. One thing that we need to make sure we have completed are our advance directives. People of all ages should complete their advance directives and make them available for their loved ones and medical professionals, but this becomes especially important the older we get.
Technically, advance directives are anything that you ask someone to do in the future. However, in elder law, advance directives usually refer to the general name for a group of legal documents that people complete that helps to direct their medical care if they are too incapacitated to make those decisions for themselves. Advance directives refer to a number of different documents, the most common being the living will, health care proxy, and anatomical donation forms. Each of these documents will be examined and explained below.
A living will is typically the most complex advance directive. A living will documents all of your preferences for medical care if you are facing terminal illness, a persistent vegetative state, or a have an end state condition. Your living will lays out whether you want to be artificially kept alive if any of the above conditions occur, or whether you choose to refuse life-sustaining measures. You can also include preferences about pain medication, whether you want to be resuscitated, or any other medical preferences you may have.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is a document that designates someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are not able to make those medical decisions yourself. If you do not have a health care proxy, the state of Florida has laws that designate who will make those medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated. If someone is married, typically the spouse is the person that the law nominates. The next tier would be children, parents, or siblings. A health care proxy lets you choose the person you think will most follow your wishes.
If you want to donate some or all of your body parts for transplants or medical research, there are several ways you can designate yourself as a donor. Florida can include it on your driver’s license, and there is also a registry you can become a part of. You can also indicate this preference in your advance directives.
After the Documents Are Completed
After the documents are completed you want to make sure that you inform your loved ones and your medical professionals about these papers. Ideally you will want all of your doctors to have a copy and also keep copies with your important papers and give copies to loved ones, especially your health care proxy. You may also want to have discussions with your health care proxy and others about your wishes and make sure they fully understand what you want in the case of many different kinds of situations.
Elder Law Services at The Villages
If you need to create or change any of your advance directives and want to make sure that they are done in a way that your doctors and loved ones will understand, you should contact a knowledgeable elder law attorney. The skilled elder law attorneys at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in the Villages can assist you with this or any other elder law needs.