If you are currently in good health, you may think you have no reason to document your medical wishes in case you cannot express them yourself. However, all adults should have healthcare directives to prevent confusion and stress among family members if they must make critical medical decisions. If a healthcare directive is not part of your estate plan, you should take steps to implement one as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more about why healthcare directives are necessary or contact us to speak to a San Jose will and trust attorney today.
What Is a Healthcare Directive?
A healthcare directive is a legal document that outlines your medical preferences should you become incapacitated. You can use it to designate a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf and coordinate with your physician on your medical care. A healthcare directive can be crucial when a person is terminally ill, disabled, or unconscious. All adults should have a healthcare directive in place in case tragedy strikes.
What Should a Healthcare Directive Include?
An experienced San Jose will and trust attorney will ensure that one or more of the following directives are included in any comprehensive estate plan:
- Living will – This document expresses your specific wishes regarding medical treatment, including when to withhold treatment if that is your desire.
- Medical power of attorney – Also known as a healthcare power of attorney or healthcare proxy, this document allows you to nominate a trusted “agent” who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot.
- HIPAA privacy authorization – Your healthcare providers cannot share your medical information with loved ones unless you authorize them to do so. If you permit a loved one to access your medical information, your doctors will be able to discuss your medical history, lab results, and diagnostic reports with them.
When a Healthcare Directive Is Especially Important
While all adults should have these documents in place, they are particularly crucial for unmarried couples and parents of young adults who wish to remain involved in their children’s health care. For example, partners who are not married do not automatically have any legal right to act on each other’s behalf, no matter how long they have been in a relationship. A healthcare directive allows unmarried partners to access the information they need to make crucial decisions about their partner’s health.
Likewise, having these documents in place for your young adult child is essential so you can make decisions on their behalf if necessary. Hopefully, you will not need to do so, but these directives can save a lot of anguish if your adult child has a medical emergency.
Contact an Experienced San Jose Will and Trust Attorney
While it is uncomfortable to think about, there may come a time when you or a loved one cannot make critical medical decisions. In that case, a healthcare directive is essential to ensure that wishes regarding medical treatment are honored. Our experienced will and trust attorneys can help you include this document in your plans. To schedule an appointment at our San Jose law firm, or at one of our many other law firms located throughout the state of California, simply contact (800) 244-8814.