Understanding your Advance Directive for Healthcare
You already have insurance on your car, just in case you get into an auto accident. You already have insurance on your home, just in case of fire or storm damage. But what if you become so ill that you cannot make your own medical decisions? Your health insurance coverage will handle payments to your care providers, but no general insurance policy can make those case-sensitive medical decisions for you. Don’t wait for a health related emergency to complicate things. It’s important to prepare ahead of time with an Advance Healthcare Directive also known as a Living Will.
If you wind up ill or injured and cannot communicate your specific wishes to doctors, an Advance Directive is a legal document that appoints a person you trust to communicate for you. This person is your “healthcare proxy.” If you are dying or permanently unconscious, this document helps family, friends, and healthcare professionals avoid confusion when it comes to your care. Your Advance Directive can include instructions on the use of dialysis and breathing machines, if you wish to be resuscitated if your heart stops beating, the use of a feeding tube, and organ donation if you pass away. You have the legal right to consent to or refuse any care, treatment, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise directly affect your physical or mental condition. Using this form, you can give your proxy as much or as little decision-making authority as you want.
As you fill out your Advance Directive, you may also want to consider appointing a durable power of attorney. In some extreme cases, the Advance Directive can be limited on a case-by-case basis by your overseeing physician. For example, if your entire body is paralyzed and you are depending on a breathing machines, feeding tubes, etc. to stay alive, but you can still move one finger, a doctor may decide that your one moving finger is enough of a reason for you to make your own decisions & answer “yes” or “no” questions. Having the proper combination of legal documents will ensure that your exact instructions are followed. Be cautious when choosing your healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney. This person should be someone you trust completely, because they will be making serious real-time decisions and possibly handling your finances while you are incapable of doing so yourself. Discuss all of this ahead of time with your attorney, make multiple copies, and be sure your family knows you’ve legally documented everything. Preparedness can ease the chaos involved in a disastrous health emergency.
The link we’ve provided here is specifically created for residents of Georgia, but PDFfiller‘s search engine contains legal Advance Directive documents for every state in the nation.