When should you update your advance directives?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Estate Planning

Advance directives are essential to your estate plan because they protect your wishes when you cannot express them yourself.

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of advance directives that are both valuable. A living will specifies the life-sustaining care you want and do not want to receive. These medical procedures may include cardiac resuscitation, mechanical respiration, kidney dialysis, and tube or other forms of invasive feeding. In the same vein, a health care power of attorney allows you to designate a proxy or agent to decide on your behalf in the event of incapacitation or if you are unable to communicate your preferences.

However, your wishes may change depending on your circumstances. Thus, reviewing your advance directives regularly is vital. 

When to update

Experiencing a significant change in your life often signals that you must re-examine your advance directives. These critical points are:

  • When a loved one dies
  • While you file for divorce
  • When you welcome a new decade
  • When your health declines due to old age
  • When you suffer a severe medical condition

All these events may impact the terms of the original advance directives you drafted. For example, if you appointed your spouse as your health care proxy, you may want to remove them from the position because you are about to petition for divorce. Further, it is important to note that a replacement is paramount in case the first appointee can no longer fulfill their duties.

Why updates matter

Even if you may not look forward to confronting the possibility of being severely ill to the point of being unable to speak for yourself, you must still face the difficult discussion with your loved ones and physicians. Doing so can ensure that your advance directives reflect your current requirements. After all, you would want as much control over your life decisions for as long as possible. Since changes often result in complications, it will be strategic to work with a knowledgeable legal advocate in navigating how to make the necessary updates for your situation. This way, you can find peace knowing that you will not leave your family with unclear instructions or unwanted burdens.

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