3 reasons for adults to draft advance medical directives

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Adults in a variety of personal circumstances can benefit from putting together estate plans. Some people draft documents that protect them later in life instead of just testamentary documents that take effect when they die.

Advance directives, sometimes referred to as advance medical directives, provide clear explanations about an individual’s medical preferences. They may provide guidance about pain management, life support and anatomical gifts. Many people never bother to draft advance medical directives unless they find themselves facing some kind of personal health emergency, like a cancer diagnosis.

Why might those who are not facing medical challenges want to draft an advance directive?

Wishes that differ from medical standards

Healthcare professionals typically do their best to conform to current best practices for different medical matters. Physicians may administer certain types of drugs or engage in heroic interventions to prolong someone’s life by default unless they receive other instructions. If someone has strong preferences about the healthcare that they receive which do not align with current best practices, they may want to draft an advance directive to clarify their wishes. People who have personal or religious objections to common forms of medical treatment may benefit from adding advance directives to their estate plans.

A need for a health care proxy

There is a dangerous presumption that people sometimes make when facing medical challenges. Specifically, they may assume that their parents, romantic partner or other close loved ones can handle their medical matters when they become incapacitated and cannot communicate or lack the capacity to make important decisions on their own behalf. However, most people who are over the age of 18 do not have someone to speak for them in the event of a medical emergency unless they have a spouse. People can choose someone that they trust, such as a close friend, their parents or a romantic partner who is not their spouse to handle their medical issues. Assigning a trusted person the authority of a health care proxy helps ensure there is someone to speak on the testator’s behalf.

Concerns about decision-making by loved ones

Perhaps someone recognizes that their spouse struggles with stress. They may require an advance directive naming someone other than their spouse to handle their medical matters or providing clear instructions so that their spouse doesn’t second-guess themselves. Those close to someone experiencing a medical emergency often have difficulty with recall and executive function because of stress. They may therefore have a hard time recalling conversations that may have conveyed someone’s medical wishes previously. Directives provide written guidance and clarity.

Those who take the time to draft advance medical directives and other living documents can better protect themselves and take the pressure off of their loved ones if a medical emergency ever occurs. Understanding the usefulness of different documents may help people preparing for estate planning to grasp what needs to be done and why.