What happens when you are in a medical emergency? What happens if doctors need to take extraordinary measures to save your life, but it could cripple you or the chance of survival is slim? What happens if you are suffering from a debilitating degenerative disease that will eventually render you incompetent? What treatments or surgeries are you willing to endure to manage said disease, and if you are only being kept alive by machines and other artificial means, do you really want to keep going on that way? These are all questions that should be asked, but you can really only give the answer ahead of time. Thankfully when planning your estate, documents can be prepared to answer these questions when you cannot. These documents are healthcare directives.
What is a healthcare directive? Broadly speaking a healthcare directive is a legal document containing legally enforceable healthcare wishes you set out ahead of time while you are still able to think clearly and communicate your desires. These healthcare wishes in your healthcare directive cannot be contradicted by family members or other individuals and your healthcare providers are bound by your memorialized wishes. This in turn helps to decrease the possibility of familial strife if there is disagreement and prevents potential legal disputes between bickering family members.
Healthcare directives take many forms. Perhaps the best known is the living will. The living will is a document that answers one very specific question: if you are ever in a permanent vegetative state, or have an incurable injury, disease or illness where death is likely to imminently occur, do you wish to be kept alive by artificial means?
For many, that answer may be no, but if you do not answer that question ahead of time with your own living will, you may be intentionally kept alive for an indefinite period of time because your family members cannot decide what you would like to have done. Such a stressful situation can cause families to fight with one another or even invite litigation to resolve who should be in charge of making these decisions. That is why it is so important to have a document like a living will in place ahead of time, to prevent such disagreements and arguments from happening in the first place.
Because your healthcare directives are binding and will override others’ opinions or wishes, it is important to make sure your healthcare directive is up to date. If not, you could be bound by a directive that does not match your current healthcare desires. Contact Steciuch Law before putting together a healthcare directive. We can help guide you through laying out your healthcare wishes. Contact Steciuch Law at 219-476-3870 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free estate planning consultation.