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What is an advanced directive for health care?

If you are considering building an estate plan, you may want to consider creating an advanced directive for health care. Whether you’re in a serious accident, suffer from a terminal illness, or find yourself needing temporary medical support, an advance directive can help others understand what your wishes are and make sure that they are followed.

An advance directive is simply a written statement that specifies your health care wishes. The point is to make sure that medical providers and your loved ones make the decisions you would have made if you could have made them yourself.

When would you need to use an advanced directive?

It’s typical for advanced directives to be used in circumstances where you can no longer speak for yourself. For example, an advanced directive may be used if you:

  • Are comatose from a serious illness
  • Suffer a brain injury from a car crash and cannot speak for yourself or signal your decisions
  • Have a terminal illness and can no longer understand the information given to you by medical professionals

These and other scenarios may necessitate the use of an advanced directive.

Who needs to have an advanced directive in place?

It is a good idea for anyone 18 or older to execute an advanced directive. You should considering creating one right now, before you actually need it. This is because you’ll need to review and make plans while you are of sound mind. If you wait until you’re injured or ill, you may not make the same decisions you would have when calm or contemplative.

It’s important to not only execute an advanced directive but make sure it is executed correctly. The document must be set up properly, signed and provided to the healthcare provider.

Seeking the help of an estate planning attorney in your area can ensure that it is ready if needed in the future. Speaking with your loved ones about a plan of action can also help alleviate any future surprises.