Advance Directives Attorney in Columbia, Missouri
Advance directives can be some of the most confusing documents included in estate plans. However, when executed properly, they are also able to provide you and your loved ones with significant peace of mind.
As with every document comprising your estate plan, you should fully understand the ramifications of advance directives to your medical care and treatment. I’m committed to ensuring that my clients in Columbia, Jefferson City, Boonville, and Fulton, Missouri, know what advance directives can and can’t do when we work together to create them. To start drafting your advance directive with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, contact me, David W. Walker Attorney At Law.
What Are Advance Directives?
Advance directives are legally enforceable documents in which you can state your wishes for medical care and treatment should you be unable to express those wishes yourself. One type of advance directive is a living will. A living will, or “declaration,” tells your healthcare providers whether you want to receive any medical intervention that will prolong your life artificially when death will occur within a short time regardless of the intervention.
Your living will provides the opportunity to address issues such as the use of ventilators or dialysis to continue breathing or kidney functions when your body can’t do those on its own. You can express your wishes regarding IV fluids, nutrition, and the use of medications to keep you comfortable. You can also express your wishes for organ and tissue donation.
Two doctors must agree that you are unable to make your own decisions regarding your medical treatment and that you are in a terminal state. Also, you can revoke your living will verbally or in writing at any time.
What Does a Healthcare Representative Do?
It is wise to execute a durable power of attorney for healthcare in your estate plan. You appoint a representative who will make healthcare decisions for you should you be unable to make them for yourself. Unlike a living will, the durable power of attorney for healthcare allows the person you name to make healthcare decisions for you any time your doctor attests that you are unable to. That means it doesn’t merely apply to end-of-life care.
For example, you are in surgery under anesthesia, and something life-threatening happens. There is no time to wait until you are awake and ask you what you want to do. The surgeon would be able to talk to your medical attorney in fact and obtain permission for lifesaving intervention. You can see why appointing a competent adult you can discuss your wishes with and trust completely is vital. As soon as you are capable of making your own decisions again, you do so, not your medical attorney in fact.
What Is a DNR?
A do not resuscitate (DNR) order is another advance directive and may be the most confusing of all to many people. Basically, a DNR informs a healthcare provider that if your heart and breathing stops, you do not want them to perform CPR, use a defibrillator, or use any type of device to breathe for you.
Although most patients are asked if they want to sign a DNR when admitted to a hospital, only those patients who are chronically ill, elderly and in poor health, or terminal usually sign a DNR. Most other patients will want lifesaving measures taken should they stop breathing or their heart stops beating. If your condition subsequently becomes hopeless without life-prolonging measures, your living will then becomes effective.
DNRs work both inside a hospital and outside to inform emergency personnel of your wishes; however, your emergency responders and healthcare providers must have a copy of it to honor it.
What Is a POLST?
A Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is not an advance directive but does provide another way to express your wishes regarding life-saving intervention during an emergency. A POLST contains more specific information about the medical intervention you do and do not want. It must be signed by you and your doctor and available also for emergency responders if you want them to honor your wishes.
Can I Revise My Advance Directive?
You can revoke or modify your advance directive in writing or verbally at any time so long as you are competent to do so. These are documents you should revisit with your estate planning attorney periodically, especially if you want to change your healthcare attorney in fact or should your health change for the better or worse.
How Can Legal Counsel Help?
Advance directives can be confusing to most adults. It is wise to work with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney to make sure your wishes are stated clearly, that you have all the documents you may need, and that the documents are executed fully so they are legally enforceable. With medical treatment, there is often no time to sort out discrepancies instead of honoring your wishes.
Advance Directives Attorney Serving Columbia, Missouri
When it comes to creating advance directives, these documents need to be as complete and accurate as possible. That requires that you fully understand what each of them does and what you are agreeing to. I am committed to my clients in Columbia, Missouri, and surrounding communities, to make sure you do understand and achieve peace of mind.
A medical crisis could happen at any time so don’t delay. Call David W. Walker Attorney At Law today.