National Healthcare Decisions Day is Friday, April 16, 2021. NHDD is an initiative to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advanced care planning and to encourage people to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. The COVID-19 crisis during the past year has forced us to consider health care decisions in a different light. Churches, synagogues and mosques around the country will support the NHDD effort by highlighting the importance of advance care planning with their congregations.
What Is An Advance Healthcare Directive?
An Advanced Healthcare Directive is a legal document that expresses an adult’s healthcare wishes when they are no longer able to make healthcare decisions for themself. Advance Directives help to ensure that you receive the medical care you desire and that decisions are made by those you trust.
When it comes to your healthcare you may think that you always get to make the decisions and that’s usually the case. But what happens if you are incapable of making your own decisions? Someone else will have to make them for you and if they don’t know what your preferences are they could end up making the wrong decisions. In order to prevent that it’s a good idea for you to prepare an advance health care directive.
What You Can Decide
One of the first things that you can decide is who you want to serve as your health care surrogate. This is the individual who is responsible for making your wishes known or for making decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You want to choose someone whom you trust to follow your wishes and who you believe will make the type of decisions that you would want them to.
Another important part of your medical treatment to consider is whether or not you want to be resuscitated in the event that your heart stops. A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form would tell medical staff that you do not want this type of intervention and can be included in your advance health care directive.
In Florida, there are two types of documents that are used to communicate your healthcare wishes in situations where you are not able to make decisions for yourself.
The first type of document is a Living Will. A Living Will expresses your thoughts and wishes regarding medical care in case you are not able to express them for yourself. The concept is that you will have thought through the different situations and expressed your own opinion, in advance, on how you think any given medical situation should be dealt with.
- Your feelings about life-prolonging or life curtailing measures can be expressed in this type of document.
- Your decisions on palliative care (i.e. hospice) is something that you can discuss in your Living Will.
- Issues concerning your religious views on medical care can also be expressed in this type of document.
In addition to helping secure the type of care you desire, an important advantage of having a Living Will is that it takes the pressure off loved ones who face making life-ending decisions on your behalf. Instead of making decisions, they are merely executing your wishes.
Healthcare Surrogate Designation
A healthcare surrogate designation using a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOA) or medical health care proxy can be used independently or in conjunction with a Living Will.
A Living Will speaks for you, at least to the extent that the document covers the situation you are in. A DPOA for health care is a bit different. In this document, you appoint one or more people who have the ability to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are no longer able to make your own healthcare decisions. The people you appoint in your DPOA use the medical information given to them by your doctors and make your healthcare decisions based on what they believe you would want to be done.
The advantage of a Durable Power of Attorney is that the document identifies the people you feel are most capable to make decisions on your behalf. The theory is that you have had some discussion with your chosen healthcare representative about your wishes so they can take in medical information and harmonize it with your wishes. In practice, many people do not enter easily into these types of discussions. In such cases, also creating a Living Will to aid your healthcare representative is a good idea.
Consulting with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney can help determine the best approach to documenting your wishes if you are incapacitated and for end-of-life healthcare decisions.
Why It Matters
Why does it matter that you create this type of advance declaration? Because you deserve to have full control over what happens to you. You deserve to be able to ‘call the shots’ about your own life and decide when and how you want to live your life.
If something happens to you and you are incapable of making decisions at that moment, it’s important to know that your wishes have already been made known to those who love you and care about you so they can feel confident that you have lived the way you chose.
Are You Prepared?
Are you prepared for National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16? The COVID crisis has made each of us realize the importance of advance healthcare planning. Those that care about you need to know what your wishes are. An experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorney can help you document your healthcare wishes.
Trusted and Compassionate Estate Planning
An Advance Healthcare Directive provides you and your family Peace Of Mind and protection by communicating your healthcare decisions in the event you are seriously injured or ill and your end-of-life wishes. With over 20 years of Estate Planning experience, South Florida Attorney Barry D. Siegel and The Siegel Law Group team know firsthand what can happen if you are unprepared for life’s greatest challenges. A knowledgeable Estate Planning Lawyer can help ensure that you make well-informed decisions about your healthcare wishes.
Call us toll-free at 855-FLA-ESTATE or at 561-955-8515 or schedule a free consultation.