Advance Medical Directives

Who's making your life & death medical decisions?
No one likes to think about the bad things that can happen to each and every one of us at any time.  Because of this, many people find themselves having to make decisions for loved ones, without even knowing what their wishes would be if they could tell.

Making your wishes known in an Advance Medical Directive prevents family members from making such choices, at one of the most stressful times in their lives. Further, providing such estate planning information means physicians know whose direction to follow, in the event your family disagrees on what medical treatment you would want.

And most importantly, your family will not have to obtain court orders to deal with your medical situation. You may recall the Terri Schiavo tragedy, where families battled in court and the media, over removing or not removing the feeding tube of the brain-injured woman.  This situation plays itself out every day with regular people, without the  camera or publicity.

How an Advance Medical Directive works
An Advance Medical Directive allows you to dictate how important medical decisions for your life are made, even after you are not capable to make them. These legal documents state your expressed wishes, rather than making your family guess what you would want.
This estate planning document expresses whether or not you wish to:

  • be given life-sustaining treatments, in the event you are terminally ill or injured.
  • be provided food and water via intravenous devices.
  • use heart-lung machines, ventilators, and other medical equipment and techniques that will sustain and possibly extend your life.

An Advance Medical Directive is the appointment of a person to whom you grant authority to make medical decisions, in the event you are unable to express your preferences. Most commonly, this situation occurs either because you are unconscious or because your mental state is such that you do not have the legal capacity to make your own decisions.
Normally, a single individual is appointed in your Advance Medical Directive, although it is common for one or more alternate persons be designated, in the event your first choice is unavailable.

Why have an Advance Medical Directive
An Advance Medical Directive allows you to express your preferences concerning medical treatment at the end of your life. By expressing such preferences in a written legal document, you are ensuring that your preferences are made known. Physicians prefer these documents because they provide a written expression from you as to your medical care, and designate for the physician the person he or she should consult concerning unanswered medical questions.

Rather than the physician having to obtain a consensus answer from your family as to your treatment, the physician knows your preferences and knows who you want to provide decisions when you cannot do so.

Obtaining and maintaining an Advance Medical Directive
Peck & Tuneski, P.C. serves individuals and families in all of Eastern Connecticut with their estate planning needs, and can provide you with an Advance Medical Directive.

While all states recognize Advance Medical Directives, the law varies as to recognizing a document prepared in another state. It is not necessary to prepare additional documents, in case you might vacation in another state. However, if you spend a considerable amount of time living in more than one state, you should consider having Advance Medical Directives prepared in each of the states in which you spend significant periods of time.

Should you change your mind about your Advance Medical Directive, you can simply destroy the document you have and have your estate planning lawyer create a new one. Once you have an Advance Medical Directive, you should keep it among your important estate planning papers.    Make sure a responsible adult, such as the designee named in your medical directive, knows where you keep these documents. If you have a regular physician who keeps your medical records, you should provide a copy of the documents to him or her for your medical records.   Peck & Tuneski, P.C. also provides access to a convenient service that allows you to electronically store your health care documents.  They can easily be retrieved with just a phone call from anywhere.

In the event you're admitted to a hospital, you should take these documents with you at the time you are admitted, and permit the hospital to place copies into your medical files. It is also a good idea to discuss the decisions you've made in your documents with family members, so they may better know and understand your wishes concerning these matters.  In the event you have not, our storage service will provide it to you and your health care providers.

Organ and Tissue Donation
In many states, you can include in your Advance Medical Directive your preference to become an organ or tissue donor at the time of death. Even though your Connecticut driver's license contains an organ or tissue donor statement, you need to express this by letting your Advance Medical Directive designee, your family, and your physician know your desire to become a donor.

 

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