Values First - Estate Planning with a Purpose

Advanced Health Care Directives

Just as financial planning helps to ensure that our financial goals are met, advance care planning is a process to think through, discuss and document goals for end-of-life care.  Without planning and communication, your family and health care providers may struggle to honor your wishes and values if you are unable to communicate.

You can take steps to ensure that your family, friends and health care providers know what your wishes are and your personal beliefs about continuing or withdrawing medical treatments at the end of life.

Complete a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care that clearly records your wishes regarding life sustaining treatment or efforts to prolong your life and who you have assigned authority to make necessary medical decisions for you should you be unable to do so for yourself.

We have more choices

Years ago we didn't have the choices in medical care that we have today. Seriously ill people, old and young, were more likely to die quickly of natural causes than they are today. Now medical technology can extend the life of seriously ill people for longer periods of time. It can even keep permanently unconscious people alive for many years. This has created choices that just a few years ago wouldn't have seemed possible.

That is why today, advanced health care planning for "end of life" care is so important.  Many of us have never been exposed to an "end of life" situation so we don't know about the decisions that have to be made, sometimes very quickly under extreme distress and emotion.

The Living Will

There is no question today that the Living Will is a legally accepted document. If you have a Living Will, you have an absolute right, supported by the U.S. Supreme Court to determine your own quality of life. The key is if you fail to make your wishes known ahead of time, while you are fully competent and not under mental duress, you lose the right-to-die privilege. This document says in effect that, if your life is being sustained solely by artificial means, that you wish this artificial means to be terminated.

A living will is a document in which you can stipulate the kind of life-prolonging medical care you want if you become terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or in a vegetative state and unable to make your own decisions.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) is another kind of advanced directive: a signed, dated, and witnessed document naming another person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself at any time, not just at the end of life. You can include instructions about any treatment you want or wish to avoid, such as surgery or artificial nutrition and hydration.

The DPAHC was established by states for the specific purpose of allowing you to name an individual to act for you when you become incapacitated. This document has no application whatsoever while you are competent, but you must create the DPAHC while you are competent.

The DPAHC contains the Right to Die clause, however, since it has not been tested in the courts, you should still complete a separate Living Will, where it has been successfully upheld in every state court it has been challenged.

The person you designate in this document is called the "attorney-in-fact" and has a duty to act consistent with your desires as stated in this document or otherwise made known, or, if your desires are unknown, to act in your best interest. You may choose three attorneys-in-fact, with the first one to act as a primary. The others act in succession if the primary is unavailable. Only one attorney-in-fact has the authority at any time.

How do you talk about it?

Communication is the single most important step in health care planning. Talk about your wishes with the people who may be called upon to speak or decide for you. 

Why is this important?

  • No matter what your advance directive says, others will not fully understand your wishes. The more thoroughly you communicate, the easier it will be for everyone to respect your wishes.
  • It will help you think about what you want. Others will ask you questions or tell you things that will make you think about your wishes in another way.
  • It will help your loved ones make difficult decisions with less pain, doubt, and anxiety.
  • It may save your loved ones from financial devastation. Sometimes families continue medical treatments long past the point where they are helpful, simply because they are unsure what their loved one would have wanted. This is emotionally and financially costly and unnecessary.
  • It may even bring your family closer together.

Make your appointment now to complete a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

It is never too early to start this decision-making process. Give your loved ones the peace of mind knowing your wishes for determining your health care decisions. 

Call me at 775-882-5771 or email to schedule your consultation for a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney.

Note: If you reside in more than one state, you should prepare documents for those states.

Health Care Organizer Binder

In order to help you organize your health records and keep them in a safe, accessible place, I have created the Health Care Organizer Binder.

The Health Care Organizer Binder is lightweight, portable and convenient to take with you on health care appointments, if you are admitted to a health care facility, or when you are traveling away from home.

The Health Care Organizer Binder includes a sealed pouch for prescriptions, a pocket for brochures and other miscellaneous items, a calendar, and 18 forms to record your personal health information. Always be up to date with your current medications and health care appointments. Record your daily care instructions, special diets, allergies, hospitalizations, lab results, or procedures. Make a list of all emergency contacts and insert copies of insurance cards, business cards for doctors, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, urgent care facilities in the business card holder.

Most importantly, it holds a copy of your Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Take the first step in preventing confusion and frustration for your loved ones by providing them with all the necessary information that they will need in the event that you may not be able to communicate or remember your health care history or instructions.

To place an order for your personalized Health Care Organizer Binder including a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for $29.95 (includes shipping and handling in the U.S.)

Click on this link to print out an order form

Print out form to order the Health Care Organizer Binder

Then Mail or Fax order form to:

Creative Estate Organizers                                                                        

1027 South Carson Street                                                                         

Carson City, NV 89701

Fax 775-884-2197

Make check payable to Creative Estate Organizers