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Why an Advance Directive Should Be Part of Your Estate Planning

Very often, people only use estate planning to control how their property will be disposed of after their deaths. But it’s also advantageous to arrange for making important decisions regarding healthcare and management of assets late in life or when a medical emergency strikes. An advance directive can serve to provide instructions and authorize a personal representative to deal with these concerns.

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There are different types of advance directives.

A healthcare power of attorney designates an agent who is authorized to make healthcare-related decisions. In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, one should prepare a mental healthcare power of attorney specifically addressing situations of mental incapacity. A living will is an instrument that allows an individual to direct the type of the healthcare they receive at the end of their life, such as for a terminal illness. A living will imposes a duty on healthcare providers and on the person authorized to make healthcare decisions.

An individual undergoing end of life treatment may execute a prehospital medical directive. This document authorizes paramedics, emergency room doctors, hospice staff and other healthcare providers not to administer lifesaving care. The requirements for this form are strict. A prehospital medical directive must be written on orange paper so that a doctor or paramedic is able to easily identify and locate the form. It must be signed by a doctor and include a certification from the doctor stating that they explained to the patient that the instructions contained in the form may result in the patient’s death. Any ambiguity permits a healthcare provider to ignore the directive.

If you become incapacitated and unable to attend to your own affairs, your family is often faced with making difficult healthcare and financial decisions. Advance directives help by giving guidance and authority to trusted family members and friends to carry out your wishes. Accordingly, these documents form an integral part of thorough estate planning.

To learn more about how Jeffrey P. Hall, PLLC, can assist you with preparing advance directives, call us at 480-409-5174 or contact us online for a free consultation. We serve clients in the Phoenix metropolitan area.