Making essential healthcare decisions in Pennsylvania can be emotionally challenging, especially when you or a loved one cannot express your wishes. Advance directives, a vital part of healthcare and estate planning, can provide the means to bring clarity and peace of mind. The following points explain the benefits advance directives offer to everyone involved.
Making your wishes known
As part of your estate planning, an advance directive provides direction on your preferences for medical treatment if you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself. Anyone over 18 can complete an advance directive, even in perfect health.
An advance directive for healthcare, also called a healthcare power of attorney, allows you to make choices regarding resuscitation, life support and organ donation and designate someone to ensure your wishes are respected. It does not give your spouse or family members any legal right to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf, nor does it allow them to make specific decisions regarding your mental health.
Easing a family dilemma
If you suffer a health crisis and the family must make medical decisions for you, an advance directive can offer emotional relief because it removes the guesswork about your preferences.
In many states, your family members automatically assume responsibility for communicating your wishes regarding medical care. However, in some states, without the completed form, even your spouse would need to obtain legal guardianship before they can make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Advance directives can also reduce the chance of family conflicts or disputes about your care and treatment because you have made your wishes known and formally documented them.
An advance directive is a formal, legal document with the authority to ensure your wishes are followed. As part of the advance directive process, you can designate a person you know will be available and responsible for making decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.
This person, called a healthcare agent, can be anyone you trust and does not need to be a family member. They do not need to live nearby, either. The individual can communicate your wishes over the telephone and must be someone who will advocate for your best wishes, even if they disagree or feel pressured by your family.
Continuity of medical care
If you have a medical condition and have an existing treatment plan, an advance directive can inform healthcare providers so they can provide health care that aligns with your current plan. An advance directive is crucial in an emergency to ensure continuity in your medical treatment plan when you cannot communicate.
Creating an advance directive is about maintaining control over your healthcare. Prepare your advance directive now to safeguard your essential healthcare choices.