National Healthcare Decisions Day- April 16th

Rack & Moccia, P.C. served as a State Liaison for National Healthcare Decisions Day, held on April 16th.  National Healthcare Decisions Day highlights the importance of establishing an Advance Medical Directive in order to ensure that your wishes regarding healthcare decisions are reduced to a legally enforceable writing so that they will be carried out, whether for medical treatment or for the withholding of life-prolonging procedures, in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

Advance medical directives are now widely considered to be a standard document in even the most basic of estate plans.  These instruments, executed in advance of incapacity, allow for the designation of an agent to make health care decisions and authorize medical treatment on your behalf.  In a section of the advance medical directive often entitled, “Health Care Power of Attorney,” the appointed health care agent is given authority to provide direction to health care providers and other parties regarding the type and extent of medical treatment you would, or would not, want to be given to you, including residential arrangements for long term care.

The instructions you give pertaining to the withholding of life-prolonging procedures in the event of a terminal illness or persistent vegetative state are typically set forth in the portion of your advance medical directive commonly referred to as the “Living Will.”

In the absence of an advance medical directive, family members are often required to apply to the courts for appointment as a guardian or conservator in order to address your health care decisions or financial matters, respectively.  Sadly, these proceedings sometimes become family battlegrounds for control, leading to costly and divisive litigation.  Since our law practice focuses on both estate planning and the appointment of guardians and conservators, our experience motivates us to encourage every adult to implement an Advance Medical Directive naming at least two health care agents and clarifying the values and choices to be applied in the making of health care decisions.   And we specifically urge you not to wait until next National Healthcare Decisions Day, just in case.