One of the most frightening aspects of an illness or injury is the loss of autonomy we suffer when we’re unable to make decisions at critical moments. Prudent estate planning from Donald R. Fuller, Jr., PLLC in Hickory can help you retain some control over your situation. By drafting valid legal instruments, such as an advance healthcare directive and a medical power of attorney, you can name someone you trust to make decisions impacting your health and welfare. If you need an attorney for an advance directive in North Carolina, my firm is here to help.
An advance directive is a legal document stating your preferences regarding medical intervention in the case of emergency. With an advance directive, you can take an “all the above” approach to lifesaving emergency care, or rule out procedures you deemed inappropriate for your stage of life. For example, elderly patients may create a living will which states that they do not want extraordinary medical measures taken to prolong their life, sometimes known as a “do not resuscitate” order (DNR). You can also express your opinion about measures like dialysis and intubation.
Your advance directive consists of a list of potential medical treatments which you either agree to receive or prohibit. You can also express your end-of-life wishes, and matters such as tissue donation. The declarations you make are legally binding. Doctors are obliged to follow your instructions, and even a duly appointed healthcare proxy cannot override them.
You should keep a copy of your advance directive with you and distribute it to your healthcare providers. If you select a healthcare proxy, that person should also have a copy.
A healthcare proxy is a person who acts as your representative for medical decisions if you cannot communicate with your doctors. You can appoint a healthcare proxy by executing a medical power of attorney, which transfers legal authority to your agent. In most cases where a court has appointed a guardian or conservator to assume legal authority for a minor or an adult with diminished capacity, the guardian/conservator has medical power of attorney over the ward.
Because an advance directive can only provide instruction for issues you have contemplated, it is useful to have a healthcare proxy who can make sound decisions on situations that could arise. This way, if you are in an accident and are incapacitated, someone you trust can decide on treatment options.
Your healthcare proxy should be a mature, level-headed individual who can make decisions under pressure. It is helpful for them to live in close proximity, but it is more important that they be accessible on short notice. It is wise to have a serious conversation with a prospective proxy about your preferences and values in regard to medical treatment. They should also be aware of pre-existing conditions and medications that trigger a bad reaction in you.
Drafting an advance directive and appointing a healthcare proxy are important aspects of the estate planning process. These measures become even more important as we age, so don’t delay any longer. My firm is waiting to help.
Donald R. Fuller, Jr., PLLC in Hickory drafts advance directives and medical powers of attorney for clients who want to maintain a measure of control over their healthcare decisions, even in an emergency. Please call 828-639-8188 or contact me online to schedule an appointment.