An advance medical directive is part of a family of directives with different names, including a living will, all with similar goals. The goal is to give you control over your advance medical decisions during times when you may not be able to make them for yourself.
Advance directives came about as a result of issues related to patients undergoing medical treatments and procedures that perhaps were unwanted in an effort to preserve life. These directives allow each individual to specify what their wishes are and how they will be carried out. And ultimately, having these wishes documented relieves a great deal of stress both from family members and physicians as the medical decisions can be made in advance by the patient themselves.
Benefits of an Advance Medical Directive
There are several benefits to creating an advance medical directive and some precautions to take. These include:
- You can make decisions in advance
- The directive will speak for you
- You can update your directive anytime
Decisions in Advance: When you are able to make your decisions in advance it is a big plus, but you must consider carefully just what those decisions are to take advantage of that plus. You can make sure that your family members do not undergo the strain of making key decisions during a stressful time. You make your decisions and they are clearly spelled out.
The Directive Speaks for You: The directive does not take effect until you cannot speak for yourself, so again you must plan carefully about what you want your directive to say when it takes your place as your spokesman. As long as you are competent, you will make your own decisions. When you are not, your advance medical directive will guide decisions used in your treatment.
You Can Update Your Directive: Nothing is set in stone forever in your directive. If your situation or personal beliefs change, you can change the details and your wishes in the directive. However, advance medical directives are legally binding and must be updated if you change your mind about some part of your future medical treatment.
Your Doctors or Family Members May Disagree: There is little you can do to prevent your family members from trying to subvert your advance medical directive if they disagree. They can appeal to your doctor or to the hospital. Also in certain cases your healthcare providers may decline to honor your directives at their discretion such as during a surgery. This situation is something you should discuss in detail with an attorney before making your decisions.To avoid missteps in completing an advance medical directive, it is best to consult legal counsel. If you are looking for an estate planning law firm in Northern Virginia that can help you make decisions about an advance medical directive, contact Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates – Attorneys at Law.