What are advanced medical directives and health care proxies?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Creating an estate plan involves more than just considering your assets and determining who you want to inherit your property after you’re gone. You also need to think about what will happen in the event that you’re incapacitated by illness, injury or advanced age.

Consider is your health care. Making plans for this now can help your loved ones to avoid unnecessary battles about your health care if you can’t speak up for yourself. There are two critical estate planning components that you’ll need to take care of regarding your health care. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to address your advanced medical directives and assign a health care proxy.

Advanced medical directives

Your advanced medical directives are written instructions that let your medical team know what types of treatments you’re willing to undergo and what you want to avoid. This can include things like artificial nutrition and intravenous hydration. You can also include your wishes regarding blood products and similar matters.

If you don’t want to be resuscitated, you need to include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. You should also consider filling out an Out of Hospital DNR so emergency medical services professionals won’t try to resuscitate you as long as you have a DNR bracelet. The Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) can also relay your wishes for medical care.

Health care proxy

Your health care proxy is the person who will make decisions about your medical care in the event of your incapacitation. Their decisions are regarding things that aren’t covered by the advanced medical directives. They must be able to make decisions based on your wishes and not their own desires.

The person you name as your health care proxy will work with your medical care team to determine what care is appropriate for you and what you should bypass. They may be asked to make serious decisions, so choose someone who won’t make emotional decisions.

Making end-of-life plans is a major part of estate planning. You also need to ensure your plan includes instructions for what you want your loved ones to do with your assets when you pass away. Your wishes deserve to be respected. But they must be articulated in enforceable ways in order to better ensure that they will be.