An Advanced Directive for Healthcare is more commonly referred to as a “Living Will”. This document offers the chance to get very specific with instructions for care. You can stipulate which medical procedures you want, and anything you wish to forego, if you’re dealing with a terminal illness. Of course you can change your mind at any time, and the document itself can always be changed. But if there comes a time when you are unable to speak for yourself, a living will can do it for you.
A living will addresses the physical body. It articulates the wishes of a person when they are still alive but unable to communicate, and it can also grant consent to an autopsy, donate organs to specific people, and direct the handling of a person’s remains (burial, cremation or something else).
The living will appoints an individual to act as your Agent. This person is designated by you, to receive your health care information too. This person will know everything about your file, and can make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated or perhaps want someone to make a decision for you. The Agent is someone who is brought into the fold of your private health care records. They are privy to things that would normally be subject to health care privacy laws. They are like another set of eyes and ears for you, so this person should be chosen carefully. Think of them as you would a trusted financial advisor, but for your body.
Because they are in the loop on everything having to do with your physical health, a living will gives a designated Agent the confidence that they are abiding by your wishes and what’s best for your situation. Helping loved ones to avoid the agonizing contemplation of whether the right choice was made, is what a living will is all about.
A Living Will is not the same thing as a Last Will and Testament. A Last Will and Testament addresses the disposition of your assets, the things you own, after your death. A Living Will addresses you, and your physical body. Both documents are necessary to ensure proper handling of your estate and your medical wishes.
Are you in the process of planning for the long-term care of a loved one? As Certified Medicaid Planners, a lot of estate planning terms and documents are very familiar to us. We can help demystify some of this for you and help you move toward a plan that addresses all aspects of this important time. With the right documents in place, this next phase can be one of confidence, knowing all the important questions have been asked and answered.