Being prepared by creating an advance directive can help protect your interests and make it easier for your loved ones to cope in the event that you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. In Pennsylvania, there are two specific documents involved in creating an advance directive. A knowledgeable family wills and trusts lawyer can help you understand the purpose of them and draft an advance directive according to your specifications.
What is Included in an Advance Healthcare Directive?
Advance directives include two documents: a living will and a power of attorney for health care. While each one serves a different purpose, they are both critical if you become incapacitated and can’t make medical decisions for yourself.
A living will enables you to state what type of medical care you want in the event of incapacity. Even if you have a spouse, relative, or friend you trust to make decisions for you, if they are unaware of your specific wishes, you may receive life-sustaining measures you may not want if you are in a coma, vegetative state, or incapacitated with no chance of recovery. Some treatments and issues to consider when creating a living will include:
- CPR to revive the heart or breathing
- Feeding tube or intravenous delivery of fluids
- Mechanical respiration
- Whether you want your doctor to withhold treatment that would prolong dying
- Whether you want certain pain relief medications even if they would hasten your death
- Organ and tissue donation
Having to make these decisions for a loved one when you do not know what they want can be heartbreaking, stressful, and cause family conflict. Ensuring you have a living will in place can take a burden off your family’s shoulders at an already difficult time.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
You will name an agent to make these health care and end-of-life decisions for you in a power of attorney for health care. You can appoint almost anyone you want as your agent, except for your physician or a health care provider who is unrelated to you. The person you choose as your agent should be dependable, trustworthy, and willing to stand up and assert your wishes if others protest certain treatment (or lack of treatment). Whether you choose your spouse, adult child, a friend, or another trusted person in your life, your agent should be stable and able to handle these situations in a calm and straightforward manner.
It can be quite challenging to set aside your emotions when creating an advance directive. Working with an estate planning law firm can help you make practical choices about what to include and who may be the best person to make these difficult decisions for you.
If you need assistance with estate planning, creating an advance directive or other legal matters, the experienced probate and estate planning lawyers at our full-service law firm in West Chester can help you make informed decisions and create a plan that benefits you and your family.