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Health Care Directive The Missing Component
May 22, 2020 | Freya Allen Shoffner, Esquire | Main Office

Health Care Directive, The Missing Component

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Covid-19 is a reminder of why you need a health care directive. It is a vital component of your estate plan that appoints someone on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the need for this very important component. A large number of Americans don't have health care directives as part of their estate plans.

A health care directive is also known as a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, or medical directive. People often shy away from them because of discomfort with their own mortality. However, particularly in these times, it is too important to avoid. This legal document will specify your wishes for caregivers in the event of illness or incapacitation. It can also give direction on how you want your body handled after death.

An agent must be chosen when writing a health care directive. Your agent will make decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to, that are consistent with your wishes. Choose an agent whose values are in line with yours. Your agent could make life or death decisions such as whether to continue treatment or just keep you comfortable or other major medical decisions. Typically, married people choose their spouse to be their agent. Other options include adult children, other close family members or friends.

After you have chosen someone to be your agent it is important to review your directive with them. The better they understand your wishes and thoughts the better they will be able to make decisions that you would want them to make.

The agent's responsibilities extend after your death. The agent is responsible to carry out any organ donation wishes you have. Those wishes are commonly indicated on your driver's license and can also be in your health care directive. Any specific wishes regarding organ donation can be expressed in your directive.

An agent helps to make sure your funeral wishes are fulfilled. There are many decisions to be made regarding preparation and disposal of the body and funeral services. Any specific directions you have can be part of your healthcare directive.

Your health care directive is an essential part of your estate plan. It keeps you part of the decision-making process for medical decisions to funeral arrangements. Putting it in place will likely make you feel good.

If you don't already have an estate plan, including a health directive, work with Shoffner & Associates to create one. The Coronavirus has emphasized the need. If you have one, make sure it is up to date. Estate plans should be reviewed every three years. They should also be updated when there are major changes in your life such as births, deaths, and marital status. Contact Shoffner & Associates to make sure your estate plan is current, includes a health care directive, and addresses your needs. Shoffner & Associates can easily work with you on your estate plan and health care directive remotely through Zoom, Skype or Google Chat and is always available by phone and email. During this time of social distancing we can still be close to you and support you.

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