The Advance Medical Directive is an estate planning tool used an Attorney to assist clients planning for incapacity by appointing an agent who is trusted to make decisions on a person’s behalf. This “health care agent” is responsible for expressing the incapacitated individual’s wishes in the event of an end-stage condition, a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state or any other condition which incurs no reasonable hope for recovery. Commonly, an Advance Medical Directive describes a person’s wishes for organ donation and preferences for burial or cremation.
Benefits of Having an Advance Medical Directive
An Advance Medical Directive is probably one of the most important documents a person can have as part of their estate planning package because it provides an active voice for their preferences during his or her lifetime. The other primary benefit of having an advance medical directive is that it may avoid the necessity of having a guardian appointed for a person to make health care decisions when he or she begins to lack capacity. Initiating a guardianship proceeding in Maryland or the District of Columbia can be a costly and lengthy proceeding.
Considerations When Appointing Advance Medical Directives
Before designating an agent, it is crucial that a person trusts the nominees to carry out their wishes. Therefore it is essential for individuals to discuss their preferences with their healthcare agent so that their agent is prepared to make painful decisions regarding life support, nutrition, and hydration in the event that a person is in an end-stage condition, has a terminal illness, or is in a permanent vegetative state with no reasonable hope for recovery.
It’s also critical to evaluate whether that person may be able to make that decisions-especially at a time where necessary decision making is overwhelming. For example, a spouse may not be able to make the difficult decision of ending life support. Instead, the appointment of somebody close to them that may be a little bit further removed may have the clarity needed to make that decision if it best expresses their wishes.