In today’s world, there is a never-ending supply of diet tips and suggestions for proper ways to work out and take care of the body. While the focus is on keeping healthy now, less attention is aimed at health care needs in the future. By encouraging patients to draft an advance health care directive (“AHCD”), they can exercise their right to provide future instructions related to their own health care and medical needs.

The Importance of an Advance Health Care Directive

An AHCD is a written document that informs your physician and your family of health care preferences you may want in the future.   It provides guidance as to what types of medical treatment you may want to have, or not have, in the event you become incapacitated and cannot make your own medical decisions. It allows you to name a person ("agent") to make your medical decision for you.

Such medical treatment instructions can include whether you wish to remain on life support, what types of surgical procedures you wish to undergo, whether you want to donate organs, where you want to receive care, instructions about artificial nutrition and hydration, mental health treatments that use electroshock therapy or neuroleptic medications and instructions for funeral arrangements.

You should have an Advance Health Care Directive in order. You should make sure that it is updated with your current medical instructions, that it is following legal requirements and that it contains relevant Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) language.   Not only does an AHCD provide you with peace of mind that your medical wishes will be carried out, but it also takes an enormous burden off your loved ones because they have your instructions to follow.

This article appeared in the May 2010 issue of The Valley Business Journal

For more information on estate planning, trust administration or probate matters, please contact us at (619) 238-1712 or see our practice areas for a detailed attorney list.