You want to cover all your bases with estate planning, so you learn as much as possible about relevant documents and roles. What do you know about protecting your end-of-life desires?
The American Bar Association explains how health care directives and health care proxies work. Learn what belongs on a directive and the powers you give your proxy.
Health care directive
A health care directive explains your medical treatment desires if you cannot voice your wishes. If you fall into a coma or become diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may lose the ability to communicate coherently. Your directive guides medical care providers and your family on your medical preferences. That way, doctors need not worry about going against your wishes even if they consult your family. If your family cannot agree on the treatment you should receive, physicians know which person to defer to. Your directive also keeps your family from making decisions you may not want or agree to.
Health care proxy
A health care proxy document names a person of your choice to speak with your voice when you cannot. You may feel comfortable naming one person for the role and including alternates if your original candidate cannot fulfill the role. Before listing anyone on the document, it makes sense to ask if the person accepts the role. That way, it does not become a surprise to the individual if you become medically unresponsive and your health care directive “activates.”
Various documents help protect your estate and right to choose. By learning about those documents and attached roles, you give yourself and your loved one’s peace of mind.