An advanced healthcare directive, or durable power of attorney for healthcare,
is the document which authorizes a person (your agent) to make medical
and immediate post-death decisions for you when you are unable to make
them for yourself.
Advanced healthcare directives generally include the following information:
1. The selection of an agent and an alternate agent.
2. Instructions on when, if ever, you would like medical assistance withdrawn.
3. Specific instructions for medical care that corresponds to your religious
beliefs, i.e. no blood transfusions, which would otherwise be performed.
4. Whether or not you authorize your agent to allow an autopsy.
5. A directive on organ donation.
6. Whether you authorize your agent to direct funeral, cremation or to
donate your body to medical science.
7. And, perhaps, most importantly, the nomination of your conservator should
you lose capacity.
An advanced healthcare directive is an extremely important document to
have. You want control over who makes your medical decisions. For some
people this is their spouse. For others, a trusted sibling or friend.
But for each person, the person they ultimately trust to take care of
them is different. For each person, their wishes for what kind of care
they would like to have pre- and post-death is different. If
Terri Schaivo taught us anything, is that you do not want family members fighting over
control over what happens to you if you are in a
persistent vegetative state. Select your agent and then make your wishes clear.
Consult with an
estate planning attorney to get your advanced healthcare directive drafted properly.