Putting your estate plans in order is a gift for your loved ones. Your clear direction can help them resolve any lingering doubts about what you might want in your final hours or how you want your assets and personal belongings divided.
An advance health care directive is part of an effective estate plan. These help your physician, hospital and family members know what sort of medical intervention you want if you can no longer communicate your preferences — and they are invaluable guides for the person who holds your medical power of attorney.
Everything you should think about before you write one
The odds are high that you’ve never considered a lot of possibilities very closely. For example, do you want pain medication even if it may hasten your death? Do you want artificial respiration (intubation) if it will prolong your life beyond what your body could naturally manage?
Before you finalize your advance health care directive, you may want to consider these four questions:
- What does your doctor suggest? Your doctor has a better understanding of all the medical processes that might occur before death. Asking, “Would you want this if it were you? Would you want this for your loved one?” is a fair question.
- What do your closest family members feel about your decisions? It will be harder for them to accept your decisions if they don’t know about them beforehand. Discussing what you intend to put in your advance health care directive can lead to a healthy discussion of your final wishes and increase everybody’s comfort levels.
- What does your culture say about death and dying? Different cultures have different customs and beliefs about end-of-life processes. Do those need to be accounted for in your plans?
- What does your religion say about end-of-life decisions? Some faith paths are more flexible and accepting than others. If you’re religious, you probably should have a chat with your spiritual leader about your options.
As strange as it sounds, protecting your future starts by thinking about your ending. Learning more about your options is wise.