As people age, their healthcare needs become more complex and their ability to make informed decisions may decline. That’s why it’s important for seniors to create advance directives as part of their elder law planning. Advance directives are legal documents that allow individuals to make decisions about their medical care in advance, in case they become unable to make those decisions later on.
In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of advance directives in elder law planning and what steps seniors can take to ensure their wishes are respected.
What are advance directives?
Advance directives are legal documents that allow individuals to make decisions about their medical care in advance. There are two types of advance directives: living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare.
A living will is a document that specifies the medical treatments an individual wants or does not want to receive if they become incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes. This includes decisions about resuscitation, life support, and end-of-life care.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a document that designates a trusted person, usually a family member or friend, to make medical decisions on behalf of the individual if they become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions themselves.
Why are advance directives important in elder law planning?
Advance directives are important in elder law planning for several reasons:
- Ensuring that an individual’s wishes are respected: By creating advance directives, seniors can ensure that their wishes regarding medical treatment are respected, even if they become unable to communicate those wishes later on.
- Reducing family conflict: Advance directives can help to reduce family conflict by providing clear guidance on an individual’s medical treatment preferences. This can help to prevent disputes between family members who may have different opinions on what medical treatments should be provided.
- Avoiding unnecessary medical treatment: Advance directives can help to avoid unnecessary medical treatment that an individual may not want, such as life-sustaining treatment in cases where the individual is unlikely to recover.
- Giving peace of mind: Advance directives can give seniors peace of mind, knowing that their medical treatment preferences have been documented and will be followed.
Steps to take for creating advance directives
Seniors can take several steps to create advance directives as part of their elder law planning:
- Consult with a lawyer: Seniors should consult with a lawyer who specializes in elder law to help them create advance directives that are legally valid and enforceable.
- Choose a trusted person as a healthcare agent: Seniors should choose a trusted person, such as a family member or friend, to serve as their healthcare agent and make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.
- Discuss medical treatment preferences with healthcare agent: Seniors should discuss their medical treatment preferences with their healthcare agent and make sure that their agent understands their wishes.
- Create a living will: Seniors should create a living will that specifies their medical treatment preferences in detail.
- Keep advance directives up-to-date: Seniors should review and update their advance directives regularly to ensure that they continue to reflect their current medical treatment preferences.
Advance directives are an important part of elder law planning. By creating advance directives, seniors can ensure that their medical treatment preferences are respected, reduce family conflict, avoid unnecessary medical treatment, and give themselves peace of mind. Seniors should take the necessary steps to create advance directives, including consulting with a lawyer, choosing a trusted person as a healthcare agent, and creating a living will. By doing so, seniors can ensure that their wishes are respected and that they receive the medical treatment they want and deserve.