Wills usually address the details that become relevant after the drafters’ death, but it’s just as important to consider the time immediately preceding death. End of life planning is essential, hence the wisdom in providing living wills or advance health care directives. Advance care planning will ensure that a person’s wishes for his or her end-of-life care will be carried out.

People with health care directives are able to relieve their family and caregivers of the burden of making stressful decisions should tragedy or grave illness occur. They will reduce points of contention and help minimize confusion and disagreement.

Living WillsIf you want to exercise control over a time when you’re no longer in a state to make decisions, draft an advance health care directive. You can state there all your preferences for all end of life issues such as choices regarding hospice and palliative care. Such an advance medical directive will essentially allow you to make your own end of life decisions.

An advance health care directive will guide doctors in the event that you develop severe dementia, get seriously injured, become terminally ill, or enter a coma or a permanent vegetative state. It is especially helpful when you near the end of your life and there’s no hope for recovery.

It’s also important to choose a health care agent to prepare for unexpected situations that require a snap decision. If you want an advance directive to appoint a person to make decisions for you when you are unable to, draft a medical power of attorney. The decision-maker may be a spouse, family member, or friend. It is prudent to designate alternates in case your first choice is not able to fulfill this role. Make sure you choose somebody trustworthy who is separate from your doctor and the rest of your medical care team.

In your living will, you have to indicate the types of medical treatment that you want or don’t want at the end of life. You should take into account how much you value independence and self-sufficiency. Think about your option to extend life. Should it be done no matter the situation or only when there’s a possible cure? You can dictate your preferences regarding matters such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tube feeding, mechanical ventilation, antibiotics or antivirals, dialysis, as well as concerns regarding comfort care or palliative care, organ and tissue donations, and the donation of your body to science. Before you make your choices regarding these, it’s best that you discuss them with your physician.

Take note, however, that you can have a DNR (do not resuscitate) order or a DNI (do not intubate) order without drafting an advance directive. You can just tell your physician regarding your wishes and these will be reflected in your patient medical record. If you do draft a living will, you should specify that you have a DNI or DNR order on file.

Having these legal documents available will spare your loved ones and medical providers the stress and uncertainty in making decisions for you. Since the requirements for living wills and advance directives are based on state law, you should get the help of a local Michigan lawyer to assist you in drafting your living will or advance directive for health care. For legal aid in drafting a health care directive, call us at Entrusted Estate and speak with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.