Advance Healthcare Directive (Or Living Will)
Modern healthcare procedures can allow you to live a very long and fulfilling life. In many scenarios, modern Healthcare may also prolong the procedure for your mortality or may keep you in a state of permanent disability. You might find this to be undesirable (and even painful) and such medical care unduly burdensome.
In Pennsylvania, you’ve got the legal right to make your own choices about the kind of healthcare you need. Provided that you’re mentally capable, your doctors will involve you directly in making choices about your medical treatment. But if you’re unable to make choices about your care, others will need to make these choices for you. You’ve got the right to determine:
- who’ll make these choices for you
- when someone can speak for you
- how those choices would be made, and
- what directions you may want to give your physician and your representative of these Healthcare choices.
Your wishes are most likely to be followed if you express those wishes ahead of time by:
- naming a healthcare representative to determine treatment for you; and
- giving Healthcare treatment directions and guidance to your healthcare representative and your physician
You should consider planning ahead for a time when you will be unable to make choices about your medical treatment. It’s possible for you to give directions ahead of time in the event you become unable to comprehend, make or communicate decisions about your medical care, and:
- you’re in your final stages of a medical condition (by way of example, you’re dying from an incurable cancer or you’re in an advanced state of a persistent obstructive lung disease or congestive heart failure); or
- you don’t have any chance of healing from an unconscious state (by way of example, as a result of serious stroke or a traumatic brain injury); or
- you’ve received an irreversible medical condition including complex Alzheimer’s disease that leaves you unable to take care of yourself or even unable to recognize loved ones.
It’s possible for you to tell others who you need to make those choices for you and how you desire to be treated by preparing an advance Healthcare directive, usually called a Living Will.
Frequently Asked Questions About Advance Healthcare Directives
Question: What’s an Advance Healthcare Directive?
An Advance Healthcare Directive is a written set of directions expressing your wishes for medical treatment. It may feature a Healthcare Power of Attorney, where you name someone called a “Healthcare Agent” to determine treatment for you. It may include healthcare treatment instructions, or a “Living Will”, where you tell your healthcare representative and Healthcare providers your selections about beginning, continuing, refusing or discontinuing life-sustaining treatment and other certain directions. Frequently, it includes both a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Question: What’s a Healthcare Representative?
A Healthcare Representative is someone you select to make healthcare choices for you. It’s possible for you to name a relative or a friend who’s comfortable with your beliefs and principles to interpret your directions and to make these choices. This Healthcare Representative can authorize, withhold or withdraw treatment.
Question: When does my Healthcare Representative speak for me?
Your Advance Healthcare Directive gives your Healthcare Agent the ability to talk for you whenever you cannot speak for yourself. If you get better and are again able to make your own choices, you can again speak for yourself. The law permits you to have your Healthcare Representative to speak for you right after a mental or physical disability, if you want. If you want your own Healthcare Representative to speak for you right away, or at any time, all you have to do is personally tell your attending physician, who should record your choice in your medical records. If you’ve got any questions about this, you may want to talk to an experienced estate planning lawyer and doctor to be sure your wishes are clearly expressed.
Question: Should I inform my Healthcare Representative that I appointed him or her?
Absolutely. It’s essential that you simply discuss your wishes with your Healthcare Representative, so that the person you name is willing to act as your Healthcare Representative, and your Healthcare Representative understands your wishes and priorities.
Question: Will my agent be in charge of my medical bills?
No. Your agent makes choices about your care. Your medical bill is your responsibility or will be paid by your insurance company.
Question: If I’m unable to make choices, what occurs if I don’t have an Advance Healthcare Directive?
If you don’t have an Advance Healthcare Directive, a Healthcare Representative may be chosen in the sequence prescribed by the Pennsylvania statute from your relatives or another adult individual who may understand your preferences and worth for goals of Healthcare decision making. On the other hand, the individual chosen by the state may not be the one you want to make choices for you. Without any written guidance, your family may be mistaken or differ about what care to give you. Your wishes may not be followed.
Question: What will happen if my doctor or Healthcare provider won’t follow my wishes?
Your doctor or Healthcare provider must let you know if they cannot in good conscience follow your wishes or if the policies of the hospital prevent them from respecting your wishes. By law, the doctor or Healthcare provider must refer you to another doctor or Healthcare provider willing to execute your directives.
Question: What should I do with my written Advance Healthcare Directive?
You should give a copy of your Advance Healthcare Directive to your Healthcare Representative, to your alternate Healthcare Agents, and to your doctor and discuss it with them. Tell your family and discuss it with them and with others, like your lawyer or clergy, if you want. Retain a copy in an accessible but safe location. You should know that a copy retained in a safe deposit box may not be reachable when needed.
Question: Can I change or revoke my Advance Healthcare Directive?
Yes! It’s possible for you to alter your wishes by telling your doctor at any time. It’s possible for you to compose a brand new Advance Healthcare Directive and replace all old copies with the new one. You should discuss any changes with your Healthcare Representative and doctor together with relatives and nearest and dearest. Also, you should consult with your estate planning attorney.
Question: What will happen if I fill out an Advance Healthcare Directive in one state and am hospitalized in some other state?
Legal requirements vary from state to state. Your Advance Healthcare Directive helps your physicians understand your wishes. If you spend lots of time in another state, you might consider consulting an estate planning attorney in that state to ensure that your wishes will be honored there.
Question: Who can I contact for additional info if I live in Pennsylvania?
Disclaimer: A discussion of Advance Healthcare Directives touches on sensitive issues. Most of us would rather not think about being ill or dying. But, by contemplating these problems now, you can save your family and those close to you the weight of having to make selections for you without sufficient guidance. Speaking with your family, your doctor, clergy, or with others whose perspectives you regard may assist you to choose the course ideal for you.
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