What are Advanced Directives?
Life is unpredictable. While no one wants to contemplate something bad happening, either to themselves or to their loved ones, it is important to be prepared. If something bad does happen, advance directives like a Living Will and a Medical Power of attorney come into play. These directives ensure that your family can act on your behalf and understand and will follow your wishes, and should be an important part of your estate planning.
A living will is a written statement detailing your desires regarding medical treatment in circumstances where you are no longer able to give informed consent. It is your way of expressing your wishes of what you would want regarding your for end-of-life medical care in circumstances in which you are no longer able to express informed consent. Without a Living Will expressing your wishes, family members and doctors are left to guess what you would prefer in terms of treatment
Power or Attorney
A medical power of attorney appoints someone you trust to act on your behalf on medical decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself. This person will make any necessary health care decisions for you and make sure you receive the type of care you would want. You may choose one person to speak on your behalf on medical matters and you can appoint a different person to handle your financial affairs with a financial power of attorney.
Do Not Resuscitate Order
A do-not-resuscitate order, or DNR order, is a medical order written by a doctor. It instructs health care providers not to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient's breathing stops or if the patient's heart stops beating. It allows you to choose whether or not your want heroic measures used to save your life BEFORE an emergency occurs. It does not provide instructions for other treatments, such as pain medicine, other medicines, or nutrition. The doctor writes the order only after talking about it with the patient (if possible), the proxy, or the patient's family.
Arizona recently passed laws making it easier to create advance directives — and make it easier for health care providers to be aware of your wishes. The program is called the Arizona Advance Directive Registry. The registry allows people to download forms from the website and then file the completed forms with the registry so that they are accessible to health care providers here in Arizona in case of emergency. According to the Arizona Secretary of State's office, 32,266 of residents are already signed up for the registry. In addition, all healthcare providers in the state have access.
The registry requires that you create a login and password, which means that unless you've shared that information with your family, they won't have access. (NOTE: See our previous article on Digital Assets). In short, you must still let your family, friends and physicians know what your wishes are. You may even want to provide them with copies of the documents.