You do not know when you will die, but you likely have some opinions on what care you want if you are at the end of your life. You can address these preferences in a health care directive. A health care directive is an important part of any estate plan.
Health care directives vs. health care power of attorney
A health care directive is different from a health care power of attorney. You designate someone to make health care decisions for you if you are mentally or physically unable to make or communicate these decisions on your own in a health care power of attorney.
You outline what care you want at the end of your life in a health care directive. You can choose what medical interventions you want if you are incapacitated, whether you want to be on life support, and what kind of end-of-life care you would like to receive.
The person you choose as health care power of attorney can refer to your health care directive when making decisions.
What are some topics to include in a health care directive?
You can address a variety of topics in your health care directive.
You may have a sudden, severe health emergency, such as a heart attack. If so, you will want to consider whether you want CPR performed.
You may develop a medical condition where you cannot breathe on your own, such as pneumonia. If so, you will want to decide whether you want to be placed on a ventilator.
Other medical conditions make it difficult if not impossible for you to eat or drink on your own. You will want to decide whether you want to be placed on a feeding tube and be provided with hydration through an IV.
A health care directive can also address palliative care. These are measures meant to make you more comfortable as your life ends.
Health care directives are important
You may not find it very pleasant to contemplate the possible circumstances surrounding your death. Still, if you have preferences about what care you want to receive, you will want to document these wishes in a health care directive. No one knows when they will become incapacitated, so it is better to execute a health care directive sooner rather than later.