What are Advanced Directives and Why are They Important?
While no one likes to imagine being incapacitated in a hospital, it is naturally on many of our minds recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus is resulting in thousands of people across the United States in intensive care, often unconscious for extended time periods. If you are incapacitated in the hospital – for any reason – who will make medical decisions for you?
While medical professionals regularly make choices on behalf of patients who are incapacitated, their decisions are not always in line with your values and wishes. In addition, having someone to advocate for you is important to make sure that you receive the care you need. You can set out your wishes and designate someone to be your advocate by drafting a document called an advanced directive.
Advanced Directives in California
There are three major components of an advanced directive, all of which are important to protect yourself. These components are as follows:
Choosing a decision-maker – You want to select someone who you can trust to heed your wishes, even if they might choose a different treatment path. The following are things to consider when making this decision:
- The person is at least 18 years old
- You can trust them to have your best interests in mind
- They know you well and are familiar with your wishes
- They have the ability to communicate with doctors about your treatment
- They can make decisions under pressure if needed
- They have the time and willingness to fill this role
Most people select a close family member or friend. This individual cannot be one of your medical providers unless they are also family. If you do not have a designated person, your family members might argue about what choices to make for you.
Making your healthcare decisions – In order for your medical decision-maker to know the types of treatment you do or do not want, you must decide yourself. You should draft your preferences for many situations, including:
- Do you want life support treatment, such as a feeding tube or ventilator, to keep you alive?
- If your condition is terminal, do you want to be in a hospital, at home, or in a hospice facility?
- Do you want to reject blood transfusions or dialysis?
- Should you undergo risky surgical procedures?
- Do you want pain management, such as morphine, if you are suffering?
- Do you want to donate your organs?
You should give copies of your directive to your decision-maker and discuss your wishes carefully with them.
Signing the form – You must sign the form for it to be effective.
Get Started with the Help of a Santa Ana Estate Planning Attorney
Having an advanced directive is highly important to ensure that you receive the care that you want and need should you have an incapacitating condition. Now, more than ever, these concerns should be at the forefront of your mind. To speak with a Santa Ana estate planning lawyer, call the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai at 714.694.1200 or contact us online today.