Advanced Healthcare Directives from Austin Estate Planning Liz Nielsen

Advanced Healthcare Directives by Austin estate planning lawyer

Advanced healthcare directives are increasingly relevant today as we see young, healthy individuals fighting for their lives against COVID-19. Yet, Asha Shajahan, a doctor working on the frontlines in Detroit against COVID-19, said in this HuffPost article that is rare for individuals to have these documents.  In fact, she found that only one in 55 of her COVID-19 patients had these important documents in place.  In times like now, it is best to expect the unexpected, and preparing documents like a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will can ease the stress placed on your loved ones.  These legal documents can provide you with peace of mind by ensuring that your loved ones know your final wishes, and the medical decisions that you would want to be made.

Advanced Healthcare Directives

During the estate planning process, you should consider asking your attorney to draft advance healthcare directive documents, such as a Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) and a Living Will.  Both the MPOA and Living Will allow you to lay out the medical decisions that you want to be made on your behalf if you are unable to do so. If your medical directives are not enumerated, then decisions regarding your own medical treatment can be left up to medical workers, and these decisions may not be in accord with your wishes.

A Living Will specifies the medical decisions that you want to be made on your behalf if you are suffering from a terminal or irreversible condition and a doctor does not believe you will survive.  The document only becomes effective when you are incapacitated or unconscious, and you require life-sustaining medical treatments. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf in making medical decisions. Like the Living Will, the document’s authority is initiated when the Grantor becomes incapacitated. It is pragmatic for a Grantor to have an MPOA prepared, as their specified agent is likely to make medical decisions in the grantor’s best interest and in accord with their specified wishes.

The Importance of MPOAs and Living Wills

Everyone should have both a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will. The importance of such documents has been further highlighted by the world-wide effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is already difficult enough for one’s family and friends to deal with their incapacity, but it becomes significantly more stressful when they cannot make decisions regarding your treatment because you do not have the necessary legal documents in place. If you are not preparing the documents for yourself, one should do so for their family members. When an MPOA or a Living Will takes effect, it often means you have entered a permanent unconscious condition. It is specifically stressful and emotionally straining on an individual’s family and friends to see them in such a compromising, unpromising condition, and these feelings are aggravated when they cannot make medical decisions within the interest of their loved one.

Working with an attorney to get these documents in place can give you the peace of mind that your health care will be handled even if you are not able to make the decisions yourself.  Do this not only for yourself, but for your family members who may need to make these difficult decisions for you.

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Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area. For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.