Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When Do I Need An Advance Health Care Directive?

The answer to the question is NOW... and MAKE A PLAN for all eventualities and possible emergencies, which includes not only food and water, but also "documents." In addition to trust, will, durable financial power of attorney (POA), there must be a medical power of attorney or directive (the four principal document essentials). The Advanced Health Care Directive should be on file with the primary care physician, the hospital, and in personal files. I also have a copy attached to my refrigerator with a magnet... just in case an ambulance team might need ready access to my wishes. All my personal medical files are in an A-Z system in the Estate Documents Organizer records book under Healthcare so my daughter and sole heir has immediate and legal authorization to honor my wishes in a critical moment or at the end of life. (She will also have the location of all other financial and legal documents, passwords, pet information and all bank, credit cards and property records - at her fingertips!)

A personal story inspired me to take precautionary steps to prevent stress, chaos, and time issues for my daughter and other family members. Years ago, a dear friend attempted suicide and was in a death coma for several days. Her mother and sister "discovered" an executed Directive or "Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)" form in her desk and they were able to carry out her wishes and avoid years of medical treatment with no hope of recovery. Her mother told me, with great relief, that she was able to let her daughter go with peace and dignity. She so appreciated what her daughter had done to spare her family more trauma... in the devastating circumstances of taking her own life. My friend was 35 years old at the time!

My hospital told me about this form - or I would not have known where to find the form or how to complete it. Do you know the importance of this form - or that it exists? Do you have a properly executed Advance Health Care Directive (living will) - on file, known to your family members and physican? If not, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. Go online to find the form or see your physician or hospital to obtain a copy. Be sure it is filled out and signed correctly. Give yourself and your family "the gift of order and peace of mind."

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