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National Healthcare Decisions Day April 16, 2024

National Healthcare Decisions Day April 16, 2024

Who do you want to authorize to make important healthcare decisions if you are unable to talk to your doctors? You have a voice, an opinion and a right to make decisions about you and the care you receive, whether you can openly communicate them or not. National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is April 16th and the ideal time to educate yourself about the importance of and steps you can take to create your Advance Health Care Directive.

At The Siegel Law Group, our Estate Planning Attorneys routinely work with families crippled by having to make incredibly hard decisions without insight into what their family member needs or wants. To avoid that, contact us to set up a plan for addressing your specific healthcare needs now while you have a voice to do so.

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Why It Matters

National Healthcare Decision Day is the ideal opportunity to think about some really hard decisions and clarify your goals with those you love. Here’s why it matters.

The Importance of Having a Voice

A tool like an Advanced Directive is critical for providing you with a way to communicate your wishes and needs now when you cannot do so.

  • You can communicate that you want extensive life-saving measures taken.
  • You can communicate that you do not want such life-saving measures taken.
  • You can exclude specific types of care you wish to receive or do not wish to receive.
  • You can make it clear when these decisions apply, such as when they are related to injury or illness.

Our goal as your Estate Planning Law Firm is to give you the ability to voice that desire or need if you have one. There is no way to know if a car accident or sudden illness will rob you of that voice and decision-making, which is why doing it now is so important.

Guidance for Loved Ones

Another value in utilizing an Advanced Care Directive is that it allows you to alleviate very painful decisions of your family members. It is stressful and painful for them to have to make decisions about your health care preferences when you cannot speak for yourself.

When you have a legal document in place to give them instructions, you alleviate that burden from their shoulders. Even if you want medical providers to fight with everything possible to save you – and your Directive can communicate that – you remove the burden of a family member having to make decisions without your input.

What Is a Health Care Advance Directive?

A Health Care Advance Directive is a legally binding document that outlines specific expectations and requests you have that are to be followed if you cannot communicate these wishes yourself. Here are some factors to consider.

Breaking It Down

A Health Care Advance Directive can be any specific requirement you put in place. Here are some examples:

  • Living Will:
    A Living Will is a document that provides specific statements on how you want decisions to be made for you, such as what you wish doctors to do and what you wish doctors not to do when there is an emergency. A Living Will can outline the specific medical treatments you want performed and what type of care you do not.
  • Health Care Surrogate Designations / Power of Attorney:
    This is a legal document that will name a healthcare proxy or a person who is able to make decisions for you about your health if you cannot communicate those decisions yourself. This person may be called a representative for you or an agent. It is important that your health care proxy knows what your specific wishes are and makes decisions based on your wishes, not their own feelings or desires. 

Key Decisions To Make 

For someone creating an Estate Plan with a Health Care Advance Directive, you should carefully consider which factors play a role in your specific needs. There are various kinds of healthcare decisions that an Advance Directive can address based on your feelings and beliefs toward them.

  • Do not resuscitate orders: A DNR is one of the most common types of tools a person who may be facing end-of-life or final-stage illness may wish to obtain. It means that you do not want other life-saving measures applied if you stop breathing or your heart stops. A DNR is placed in your medical chart for doctors and nurses to use.
  • Do not intubate orders: A DNI is a type of advanced directive that informs medical staff that you do not want to be placed on a ventilator.
  • Do not hospitalize orders: A DNH order is one created for a long-term care provider, such as a nursing home, that indicates you do not want to be sent to the hospital for treatment if you are at the end of your life.
  • Pain management: You can make specific statements about the use of pain medications as well.

Getting Started with Health Care Advance Planning

Our Estate Planning Attorneys can help you with each step in the Health Care Advance Planning process. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Research Advanced Care Directives. Use tools like The Conversation Project to educate yourself on the options. Education is critical in making decisions that you can feel comfortable with long term.
  • Discuss your options and needs with your family members. While these orders can help ensure your wishes are understood, discuss them with your family members so they know you have a Directive in place, who your representative is and so they understand why you wish put those specific orders in place.

Free Resources Available

While customized support from an Attorney is best whenever possible, there are free resources available to help you understand more about Health Care Advanced Directives. For example, the National Institute on Aging provides a comprehensive guide along with specific strategies you can take (at any age) to make sure your wishes are fully understood and communicated.

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Call THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys – The Siegel Law Group

Your Health Care Advance Directive is an incredibly big decision, but it is very important to your family and to ensure your needs are met. At The Siegel Law Group in South Florida, we can help you every step of the way.

Call our office at 561-576-6206 to schedule a complimentary consultation, or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

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