Have you made your end of life plan yet? If not, you’re not alone. This series is meant to help you prepare an EOL plan in three simple steps. Within a week or even a weekend you can have a basic EOL plan that delivers the peace of mind you want about the one step in life we all must take. Let’s do this together.
Now that you’ve decided to “just do it,” and learned basic information about how an EOL plan works, it’s time to start tackling the first step. Today we’ll show you how to download and complete an Advance Healthcare Directive.
Why is this important? An Advance Directive is the key to protecting your long-term health; it’s your chance to provide written instructions to doctors and family members about what type of treatments you want (and do not want) if you are ever in a medical situation where you can’t make decisions for yourself.
Without one, you lose control of your fate in a time when you need it the most. Your doctors and family will have to make crucial decisions for you, and with no written instructions, they may be left wondering if they’re honoring your wishes with the choices they have made.
The best way to make your intentions clear is to fill out an Advance Directive when you’re healthy and have the time to think through all your options.
Use this link to find a form that’s specific to the state where you live: Advance Directives for all 50 States. After you’ve downloaded a form that’s right for you, take a minute to look at our e-book that explains how to fill out an Advance Directive in more detail: How to fill out an Advance Healthcare Directive
When filling yours out, you need to answer a series of questions about what actions you want taken (or not taken). It’s important that you spend some time to seriously think about how you want to be treated.
Once you’ve put your wishes in writing, the next step is to name a person you trust to be your Healthcare Proxy (or Healthcare Power of Attorney). This is the person you appoint to speak to doctors on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself. You will want to name a primary Healthcare POA as well as a second person that will do the job if your primary can’t do it.
When choosing your Healthcare Proxy, it’s a good idea to talk about it with the people closest to you. For most people, it’s their family. We suggest you choose the right time to have the conversation; a good time may be during a relaxed family gathering. The goal is to be able to openly discuss your EOL wishes with your Healthcare Proxy or Proxies as they need to be aware of your intentions and must agree to take on the role for you.
Once you’ve made your medical decisions and talked with your family, now it’s time to make it official.
When signing your Advance Directive, it’s a good idea to have your family with you. Some states require that you have two witnesses present if you are not going to get it notarized (to make it legal). A lot of people even ask their physician to be a witness but if your doctor is not present when you’re filling it out, make sure and share the document with them so they are aware of your wishes.
Although you don’t need a lawyer to prepare an Advance Directive, if you want to be 100% sure of its legality, you may want to speak with an attorney to make sure you have all the bases covered. Be aware that every state has different laws regarding how to write an Advance Directive.
In addition, some online forms may not cover every medical scenario that could happen so be sure and keep yours current if you develop any serious medical conditions. Your wishes may evolve as you age and the goal is to make sure your Advance Directive is always in line with your current thinking.
Congratulations, you just completed the first step in your EOL plan. Stay tuned for next week’s installment in the series when we will show you how to fill out your Last Will & Testament.