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A health care directive enables control over medical treatments

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2020 | Estate Planning

Members of the baby boomer generation may have unique requirements when creating an estate plan. Issues of medical preferences often require special attention when the preferred choices do not reflect traditional or standard treatments. 

An individual may wish for specific end-of-life procedures or alternative treatments for a serious illness. He or she may wish to consider creating a health care directive to help ensure medical professionals honor those preferences. 

Designated agents with authority to make decisions 

Also known as a “living will” or “power of attorney,” a health care directive names an individual who can act as an agent. The document legally authorizes a predesignated and trusted agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the directive’s creator. 

An agent may discuss and direct care and treatment options with medical professionals on behalf of an incapacitated patient. This enables individuals drawing up estate plans, wills or trusts to proactively include detailed medical preferences in the event they cannot make decisions on their own. 

Documented instructions regarding care preferences  

A health care directive provides the chosen agent with detailed instructions and decision-making criteria regarding the choice of options for medical treatment. The instructions can also include after-death details, such as burial or cremation specifics. As reported by Forbes magazine, however, almost 67% of adults in America have not created a health care directive. 

Alternative treatments and health care directives 

Florida’s only assisted living center used for teaching health care professionals began an alternative medicine pilot program. As reported by Miami’s Community Newspapers, the medications may help patients manage chronic pain, depression and aging conditions. However, people who wish to use alternative medicines over traditional pharmaceuticals may not do so in certain cases unless an agent asserts their wishes for them. 

A health care directive may empower a designated agent to instruct physicians to follow specific alternative medicine or end-of-life actions instead of standard or traditional medical practices. Accordingly, creating a legal document that protects an individual’s wishes regarding caregiving procedures could play an important role in an estate plan. It may also help ensure that family members do not become overwhelmed by financial or decision-making obligations.