Advance Directives

An advance directive is a general term for a document that explains how you want medical decisions to be handled in the future. An advance directive may be a living will, a health-care power of attorney, or it may be a single document that contains both a living will and a health-care power of attorney as parts. Both a living will and a health-care power of attorney are critically important in making sure medical decisions are treated the way them to be in the event you can’t speak for yourself. Both are discussed below, but it makes the most sense to have them both created at the same time and kept together as a single document or file.

An advance directive may be a living will, a health-care power of attorney, or it may be a single document that contains both.

Maryland legislature enacted the Health Care Decisions Act, amended in 2012, that creates a framework for health-care decision making. The Act defines the legal requirements for creating an advance directive and how health care professionals make decisions with or without an advance directive. The act provides sample forms, but these forms may be to generic to be helpful in your situation, and they reflect the values of the Maryland legislature, not your own.

Many advance directives turn out to be unhelpful when a crisis arises, either because they are too rigid (for example, listing what procedures to apply in hypothetical situations when the real-life situation is more cloudy and fluid) or are too vague to inform your family and doctors of your wishes. An effective advance directive takes into account your existing medical situation, is guided by your own values and desires, and provides clear guidance on what you would want. The best way to do this is by examining your own values and having discussions with your family members and doctor. Your lawyer should help with this process, by listening to you, answering your questions, and providing information relevant to you. After these steps, the drafting of your advance directive should be relatively straightforward.

Previous: Wills — Next: Living Wills

Back to Estate Planning Basics

 

Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC
8133 Runnymeade Dr Frederick, Maryland 21702
Phone: 240-415-8323 URL of Map