The Importance of Advance Directives

As a family member ages, it becomes even more important for that individual to engage in proper estate planning to guarantee a stable future. Although many planning instruments are primarily utilized by elderly citizens, experts recommend that people of all ages install adequate estate plans in preparation for an unexpected accident. Advance healthcare planning is among the most important as healthcare plans prepare for an individual for any medical procedures and/or decisions that they themselves may be unable to make at the time of operation. In response to this need for adequate medical planning, there are five things that every American should know about advance care planning:


  1. In General. Advance care planning involves outlining the types of decisions that may need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then creating a plan to let others know about those decided preferences. Afterwards, those preferences are then placed into an advance directive, which is a legal document that goes into effect only if the individual is incapacitated and unable to speak for themselves. These documents allow a person to express their own values and desires related to end-of-life care.
  2. What to Include. In dire situations, decisions may need to be made about the use of emergency treatments to keep an individual alive. Consequently, many users of advance directives use the documents to outline which life-saving procedures they feel comfortable consenting to. Decisions involving CPR, ventilator use, artificial nutrition and/or hydration, and comfort care are commonly included in advance directive orders.
  3. First Steps. Like any other decision, the process for obtaining an advance directive begins with conducting adequate research and determining which aspects are necessary for inclusion. Likewise, it may be beneficial to discuss this decision with a doctor as a licensed professional may be able to help incorporate personalized details into the directive depending on the patient’s own health.
  4. Making Advance Care Wishes Known. Like any other estate planning document, advance directives may bring about uncomfortable conversations depending on the individual’s familial relationships. There are two main elements to an advance directive: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Likewise, there are also other documents that can supplement an advance directive. Regardless, while an individual may be able to choose which documents he/she uses, they should make sure to talk with family members to avoid any confusion later.
  5. Talk to an Attorney. While advance directives can become confusing as they have many different parts, consulting with a professional estate planning lawyer in Arlington, TX, such as from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, may help ease the process.


         Every adult should have a plan for their estate’s dealings. Likewise, it is imperative that all American citizens establish an advance directive to plan for their own medical decisions.