Planning for a Crisis With Advance Directives

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by Advice Chaser
by Advice Chaser

There’s nothing that reduces anxiety about the future like planning. When you have a solid plan in place, you know what to expect and have the maximum control over the outcome. One important emergency to prepare for is the chance you will be incapacitated in the hospital for a period of time. In that case, advance directives are your way of making your wishes known and keeping control at a time you otherwise would be powerless.

It takes courage to draft an advance directive. Often, people shy away from thinking of uncomfortable possibilities like hospitalization. But, by facing the frightening potential, you rob it of a lot of its terror. You’ll know you’re prepared for whatever happens.

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Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

The most important question to answer while crafting your advance directives isn’t what, it’s who. Who do you trust to manage healthcare decisions while you’re ill? This person will both carry out your wishes, as stated in your other documents, and deal with questions you didn’t predict. It’s not possible to predict every situation that might come up, but a trustworthy person who knows your general wishes can figure out what you would want.

Who should you designate as your healthcare agent? It must be an adult, and you’ll probably prefer someone close by who can meet with your doctors. Many people simply choose their spouse, a parent, or an adult child. But close friends can also be an excellent choice. The person you choose should be trustworthy, knowledgeable, and not easily pushed around or made to panic. Talk to them about the designation to be sure they are willing.

In a separate document, you can also give a financial power of attorney to either the same or a different person. This person will handle your financial affairs while you’re unavailable.

Living Will

A living will is the advance directive describing your wishes more specifically. It can include things like whether you want CPR or other resuscitation, whether you prefer aggressive treatment in all cases or palliative care for terminal conditions, and whether you want to be an organ donor.

There are questionnaires available online to help you draft this document. No document can cover every eventuality, but you can lay out your basic preferences for your health care agent and medical team. Once it’s complete, you may need to have it witnessed or notarized. This depends on the laws in your state.

Give a copy to your healthcare agent and a copy to your usual doctor. You can also carry a small card in your wallet stating that you have advance directives and who to contact to obtain a copy.

Beyond Advance Directives

Once you have your living will and medical power of attorney documents, you’re mostly set for a medical emergency. But you may also want to consider these questions:

  • Are your emergency contacts up to date, on all forms asking for one?
  • Do you know what your insurance will cover in an emergency? Is your insurance card in your wallet? Does your healthcare agent know any restrictions on your insurance, such as what hospital is in network?
  • If your next of kin is not your healthcare agent, do they know this? Is there a chance they will hassle your actual agent in an emergency? It could be wise to speak to them first.
  • Do you have religious needs in an emergency, such as a desire to see a priest or minister? Make sure your healthcare agent and primary doctor know this.

Many people find it wise to carry disability or long-term care insurance. Why? Because good health is never a guarantee. Better to make provisions now, when you are able to make arrangements, than be left without resources later.

Don’t Forget the Financial Side

Medical emergencies can be expensive. When your finances in order and you carry all necessary insurance, you can handle these eventualities with a minimum of trouble. Talk to your financial advisor about your preparedness. Do you have enough savings for common emergencies?

If you don’t have a financial advisor, finding one can gain you a valuable ally. We can connect you with the right person for you with a quick phone call.

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