FAQs about Health Care Directives
What is a Health Care Directive?
A Health Care Directive states your preferences regarding life-sustaining medical treatment if you have a terminal illness or are in a permanent unconscious condition. Essentially, a Health Care Directive guides your loved ones as they make decisions surrounding your medical treatment if you are unable to express your preferences. Health Care Directives might also be referred to as living wills or advanced care directives.
Can I use a Health Care Directive to name someone to make health decisions for me?
No. A Health Care Directive is not used to name your health care agent.
What can I include in my Health Care Directive?
Health Care Directives can be highly personal documents. For example, a Health Care Directive not only lets you write down health care preferences and values, but it can be the place where you note down your religious, ethical, and personal wishes and preferences.
Do I need one?
Ideally, all adults should have a Health Care Directive. Without one, it will be difficult for your loved ones to know what your preferences about end-of-life care are. This document will help guide them through a tough time and navigate difficult choices.
Can I revoke a Health Care Directive?
Yes. Typically, a Health Care Directive may be revoked at any time by the declarer through various methods.
Where should I store my Health Care Directive?
You should keep your Health Care Directive in a secure, but accessible place. Keep in mind that if you store a Health Care Directive in a safe deposit box or similar location this might prevent others from accessing the Health Care Directive in case of an emergency.
Ruth A. Harper
I'm a Pacific Northwest attorney, and my focus is on estate planning and elder law. My interest in these fields grew out of my experience with aging relatives and family members with special needs.
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