Health Care Directives
A Health Care Directive allows you to: (1) appoint a person known as an agent who can make health care decisions for you; and (2) clearly inform others of your health care wishes. Historically, two separate documents were required to accomplish this: a Living Will and Medical Powers of Attorney. Today, only one document is required-but, it must be carefully drafted to effectively meet your goals.
Your health care directive can appoint anyone over 18 that you trust to make medical decisions for you and tell your physicians, family, and friends what kind of care you wish to receive. For example, it often states whether they should give you life-sustaining treatment if you are in an irreversible coma, persistent vegetative state, or have a terminal condition.
Your health care directive guides your loved ones during difficult times. While it may seem as though you are placing a significant responsibility on the person you chose as your "agent," not having a health care directive can be much worse. Without your guidance, there may be dissention among your family members as to "who is in charge," and "what treatment you would want."
**NOTE: You should have an attorney review any older health care documents to make sure they are still valid.