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Published on August 24, 2021

Medicine is often discussed separately from the law, but there are several essential documents involving your health. For instance, the subject of end-of-life care is sensitive. In addition, some prefer their family members to take care of the decision, while some would like their partner or significant other to be the person in charge. To avoid disputes, one can create an advanced directive.
 

The Basics of an Advanced Directive
 

An advanced directive is a legal document that does not expire. Instead, it contains specific instructions made by the person about their end-of-life care. The first part is similar to a last will and testament. The difference is that it is concerned with how one wants to receive medical care during a critical situation. These include events wherein the patient is likely to be in a coma and may no longer wake up.

The second half of the document defines who makes health-related decisions for you if you are rendered unconscious or unable to decide for yourself. Similar to properties and finances, it is a "power of attorney."

 

The Need for an Advanced Directive

An advance directive can avoid potential hurdles when an unfortunate medical situation arrives. While family members are often entrusted with the power to decide for the patient, there are times when they cannot come to a decision or might not act in the best interest of the person.

Usually, people create advance directives with assistance from a lawyer. However, you can make one yourself. In addition, some services enable individuals to make their advance directives without a lawyer yet retain the same validity and power as more conventional setups. An example is Rocket Lawyer, a web-based service.
 

Keeping the Advance Directive Safe

Like other documents, you must store the directive in a place safe from harm. Otherwise, it might get lost, and you will not receive the care you need when put in a compromising situation. People are advised to hand out copies to their doctors, significant others, and trusted individuals. Ensure that the healthcare proxy is aware of their role and has their version of the document.
 

The document does not expire, so it is crucial to go through it every couple of years. You may make changes to it based on any health conditions or personal wishes. Like the old version, be sure to distribute copies to trusted people whenever you make changes to the directive. Considering how people's health can be unpredictable, it is advisable to reflect on your advance directive every couple of years.
 

Although the directive should be valid across the United States, some states might have different policies relating to end-of-life care. If you have residences in multiple areas, it might be advisable to have a directive for all of these places.

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