How do you use an advanced directive for health care?
So maybe you’ve done an advanced directive for health care, which other states tend to call a living will, and I sometimes call a medical advance directive because for some reason that just seems easier to me. But maybe you’ve done this document and you’re feeling really successful because you have adulted today and you walk out of your attorney’s office with this piece of paper.
What comes next? How do you use it?
The advance directive for health care has two purposes. One is to tell the doctor or the hospital who it is that you want to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. So, in order to make that happen, you need to give a copy to your doctor. Take a copy to the hospital. Now, you might just wait until the next time you’re at the hospital for something. Maybe, you know, your doctor ordered a test or a scan or whatever, but the doctor and the hospital won’t know about this and can’t use it unless you give them a copy.
The second thing that the advance directive for health care does is give direction to that person that you have designated as your medical power of attorney. It gives them insight into the choices that you would like them to make, and also, depending on your choices, specifically if you make choices regarding how long you’d like to be kept alive artificially, it relieves them of pressure and responsibility for making those decisions without knowing what you want, and sometimes they can be sure that they are following your instructions and your wishes even when what you want is not what other family members want.
So in order to have that part of this happen, you need to give a copy of your medical advance directive to any of your health care proxies. There can be a first one, a second one, a third one, and honestly, you could probably go on and on, but any of these people need to have a copy for themselves so that they can read it and hopefully ask you questions about it before they’re in a position of having to use it to guide them. If you’ve got other questions about advance directives for health care, I’d love to hear them. Thanks.