Why Advance Health Directives Are Overlooked and How to Create One

Estate planning is a complex process. For many people, estate planning is overwhelming and results in many unanticipated costs. For other people, it is frightening to accept that they too will one day pass away. Despite how you might feel about estate planning, there are several important estate planning documents that every person should have including an advance healthcare directive. Health care directives play an important role in allowing a person to specify their choices for caregivers in case of illness or mental incapacity. In some cases, these directives also contain instructions about a person’s body should be handled following death. While they play an important role, statistics reveal that a large number of people are still deciding to not include advance healthcare directives in their estate plans. This article takes a brief look at why these directives are important as well as recommends some steps in creating one.


The Growing Importance of Advance Health Care Directives


Trusts and wills have existed for centuries, but health care directives are a new type of estate planning document. These documents first appeared in 1976, but by 1992 all 50 states had laws allowing advance healthcare directives. One of the reasons why advance healthcare directives have grown substantially in number is that they allow us to have certain control over certain issues related to estate administration and our death. One key feature that many health care directives feature is the ability to choose a third-party to act as an agent in case you become incapacitated. Besides making decisions while you are incapacitated, an agent will often also make sure that your wishes are carried out after your death.


Tips in Creating the Best Possible Advance Healthcare Directive


Some of the important steps to follow before creating an advance healthcare directive include:


  • Gather all of your other estate planning documents, which can up influencing the terms of an advance healthcare directive.
  • Decide whether you would like to receive life support treatments at the end of your life or whether you do not want to receive life-prolonging measures. The sooner you decide on which approach is the best, the easier the management of your estate plan will be.
  • Select an agent who has the boldness to be your advocate. These individuals will make sure that you end up receiving the type of care that you desire.
  • Share your advance directive with the agent as well as your loved one. This way there are no disagreements in the future about who you have appointed. You should similarly make sure to share the advance directive with your medical providers.
  • Make sure that your medical professional’s records reflect that you have completed an advance directive and that these wishes reflect the type of care you want to receive.


Speak with a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney


Despite the value provided by advance healthcare directives, they are not always easy to create. If you need assistance in making the best advance directive possible, it can help to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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