Though it’s always been true, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the point that a debilitating medical condition can strike without warning. Whether you’re fighting the coronavirus or are incapacitated for some other reason, your wishes regarding medical treatment should be honored by family members and healthcare providers. An experienced attorney can help you put the necessary advance directives in place and help you understand what best suits your needs.
The urgency and danger associated with the coronavirus have motivated many people to consider creating or reviewing documents such as living wills, healthcare proxies and power of attorney documents. If you want to protect your ability to control the care you receive even if you’re unable to communicate, here are some things you should know:
- Advance directives help you and your family — Every person deserves the right to determine what type of health care he or she receives. Without setting forth clear instructions, doctors and loved ones might be forced to speculate as to the decisions you’d make. In addition to the financial burden linked to end-of-life care and other grave medical circumstances, disputes among family members about what to do could be emotionally excruciating.
- You have options — Many people associate advance directives with living wills, which state what types of extraordinary medical measures a person wants to be used in order to prolong their life in a dire situation. Other types of advance directives exist as well, such as healthcare proxy documents that designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot express your preferences. You might also consider a power of attorney or similar document that grants someone the authority to handle financial matters if you’re felled by an injury or illness.
- An attorney can help — States have specific rules on advance directives and an attorney familiar with these issues can outline what works where you live. Your advance directives become active as soon as you sign them and stay active until you legally change them. Make sure you have multiple copies and store the originals in a place that anyone can access. Remember, locking a key document away will not help if no one can access it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of pain and confusion to for all of us. Though discussing worst-case scenarios is never easy, current events have prompted meaningful conversations. With the assistance of a dedicated lawyer, you can turn your intentions into legally binding instructions. You will see that developing a sound advance medical directive helps you take a little control back during this uncertain time.
Contact a qualified attorney to discuss the creation of an advance medical directive
Teresa K. Bowman, P.A. helps clients prepare and revise living wills and other types of advance medical directives. Please call 941-735-5200 or contact the firm online to speak with a qualified attorney about your concerns.