The Advance Healthcare Directive: An Estate Planning ToolSubmitted by JMB Financial Managers on February 20th, 2019
With the advancements in medical technology, medicine, and treatment, it is now more possible than ever for a person to defeat a health crisis that would have ended a person’s life several years ago. Additionally, hospitals can now keep a person alive, often under the most extreme situations. These modern medical wonders bring many dilemmas and challenges that make certain estate planning tools like an advance healthcare directive more necessary than ever before.
Healthcare Directives are Now Necessary
It is not uncommon now for a patient in such a health condition to be unable to communicate their medical care wishes to family and physicians. In the absence of other legally approved guidance, the physician will typically use all available means to keep the individual alive, regardless of the circumstances or the person’s wishes.
In the event that death is certain, or highly likely without the use of medical technology, some people feel life should not be prolonged artificially, and that they should be allowed to pass away with dignity. The decision to begin, or withdraw, such life sustaining support through the use of technology can be assured with some advance preparation in the form of an Advance Healthcare Directive.
Types of Healthcare Directives
An Advance Healthcare Directive can take several forms:
- A Living Will
- A Healthcare Power-of-Attorney
- A Do Not Resuscitate Order
- A Five Wishes Form
- A Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment
Types of advance directives vary based on state law and individual preferences within the states’ legal requirements. The two most common types of advance directives are the living will and the healthcare power-of-attorney, which is sometimes called the durable health care power-of-attorney or health care proxy.
A living will creates instructions for an attending physician to map out a treatment plan for patients when they cannot express it themselves. A healthcare power-of-attorney authorizes someone to make decisions for them when they are incapacitated. People are often encouraged to complete both documents to provide comprehensive guidance regarding their care. A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization completes the triad by allowing the persons involved to have access to all the necessary medical records.
Should You Have an Advance Healthcare Directive?
Whatever a person’s wishes are, they should spend time discussing the issues and their requests with family, friends, clergy and their physicians. They should make sure that these same people know where to find these documents in the event they are needed, and what the intended purpose of the documents is. This will help ensure a person’s wishes are met with as little challenge and complication as possible.
Non-profit organizations such as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization can provide education and support on end-of-life issues.
JMB Offers Estate Planning Services
The counsel and guidance of financial, legal, medical and religious professionals is essential to the successful preparation of a well-constructed estate plan, including documents such as the Advance Healthcare Directive. As a financial institution, we’re dedicated to making sure you and your loved ones are prepared for any of life’s circumstances. For more on how we can assist you in this process, please reach out to us today.
Disclosure: The views are those of Jack Brkich III, CFP and should not be construed as investment advice. All economic and performance information is historical and not indicative of future results. Investments in securities do not offer a fix rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and, when sold or redeemed, you may receive more or less than originally invested. No system or financial planning strategy can guarantee future results.