The ability to make healthcare decisions for yourself is something we take for granted. But what if you couldn’t speak for yourself? What if you couldn’t make your desires known and advise your loved ones and your medical team of your requirements? What if the people you trust had no legal authority to act on your behalf? Good news – there’s a tool for that: the healthcare advance directive.
Your healthcare advance directive can offer two types of protection:
- Your living will provides your life-sustaining and end-of-life medical care instructions, and related healthcare preferences, in case a time comes when you cannot state them for yourself.
- Your healthcare directive can also name healthcare representative(s), or agent(s) and grant them healthcare power of attorney. If you cannot make your own healthcare decisions, your agent can decide on your behalf, guided by your living will. Medical professionals can also more freely discuss your condition with your agent, without violating HIPAA privacy rules.
When It Applies.
Your healthcare advance directive only comes into play if you are alive, but unable to direct your own medical care.
Accidents and illnesses can rob you of your mental capacity – temporarily or permanently. If you do not have an advance directive in place, healthcare professionals and/or key family members may have to make medical decisions for you, without knowing what you would have preferred. Also, the individual(s) you would most want to have making decisions on your behalf may not be able to do so if you haven’t named them as your representative(s) in your advance directive. This can be stressful if not heartbreaking for everyone involved.
- Not only should almost everyone have an advance directive, it should be easy to find it when needed. Distribute copies to your primary physician and any of your other healthcare providers to keep on file. Give it to key family members. At Wisdom Wealth Strategies, we also maintain a portal for storing clients’ essential paperwork – including advance directives.
- IMPORTANT: Do you have children who recently turned 18? As soon as your child is an adult, healthcare providers may not be able to even discuss your child’s case with you unless you have a healthcare power of attorney. Also, as described in this Wall Street Journal piece, if your child is attending school in another state, it’s worth establishing a healthcare power of attorney in their state and yours.
How Can We Help?
Professional legal counsel is usually warranted as you sort through the details of essential planning documents. Let us know if we can put you in touch with select professionals to assist – or if we ourselves can help you sort through the logistics involved. That’s what we are here for!
Andrea L. Blackwelder, CFP®, ChFC, CDFA® and Joseph D. Clemens, CFP®, EA are the founders and partners of Wisdom Wealth Strategies. Their shared passion is simple: to bring financial empowerment, understanding, and peace-of mind to people who wish to improve their financial future, build wealth for their families, and achieve financial independence. Click here to find out more about how you can work with the Denver Financial Advisors at Wisdom Wealth Strategies.