What Are Advance Healthcare Directives?

Wills, Wills Variation | June 28, 2022 | Written by Natasha Nair

Advance healthcare directives are legal documents that outline your wishes for medical or personal care if you become ill, injured, or cannot effectively express your wishes. While these documents are beneficial for everyone, it can be difficult to know what information should be included in an advance healthcare directive to ensure that your wishes are accurately represented. As experts in wills, estates, and trust law, the team at Linley Welwood knows how important advance care planning is. That is why we have compiled some information to help you understand what advance healthcare directives are and why they are important.

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Why are Advance Healthcare Directives Important?

While it can be difficult to plan for serious injuries or deteriorating health, it is critical to create strategies  for these circumstances. If you become ill or injured to the point that you cannot express your wishes for healthcare, this can lead to a stressful situation for your family. An advance healthcare directive definitively outlines your wishes for medical care while also including some information on your values and beliefs to add context. In an advance healthcare directive, you can choose to use or refuse life support if you are deemed to be close to death, eliminating the stress of having a loved one interpret what your wishes would be in this situation.

Advance Healthcare Directives and Representation Agreements

While advance healthcare directives outline your medical wishes, they often do not include information on who is going to represent you. That is why they are often paired with representation agreements, allowing you to elect someone you trust to act in your interests. A representation agreement can be defined as a legal document that is used to appoint an individual (or individuals) to make health and personal care decisions on your behalf if you have not stated any specific preferences or instructions. To clarify, an advance healthcare directive outlines your wishes and preferences for healthcare while a representation agreement outlines the individual that you want to act on these wishes or make decisions on your behalf.

While it is possible to have one of these documents without the other, having an advance healthcare directive without a representation agreement carries many risks. One of these risks is that you would not have any power over who will speak on your behalf, leaving it up to interpretation and potentially causing conflict amongst your loved ones. Advance healthcare directives also do not cover specific medical scenarios or illnesses, meaning that your wishes may not apply to the situation. To mitigate these risks, it is recommended to pair an advance healthcare directive with a representation agreement.

To learn more about advance healthcare directives, representation agreements, and other areas of wills and estate planning, get in touch with the team at Linley Welwood. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services.

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