The Importance of Advance Health Care Directives
One of the most difficult decisions seniors, their families, and caretakers need to make is how to make end-of-life decisions. Arizona allows individuals to use a legal document called an “advance directive” to help control who makes these decisions when you are not able to physically or mentally make the decisions on your own. There are two basic types of advance directives – a health care power of attorney and a living will.
At Yaser Ali Law, our Tempe advance directive attorneys explain how legal documents can be drafted that respect your end-of-life decisions. We explain the different reasons why you may not be able to make your own decisions. We review what decisions might need to be made when you become seriously ill. We draft documents that make clear to medical providers what is to be done when you’re near death or incapacitated and who should make the care decisions for you.
Health Care Power of Attorney
The key parts of this type of advance directive are:
• The appointment of a proxy to make health care decisions for you. Usually, the person appointed is a spouse, family member, or close friend. The person appointed should be an adult.
• The power can be broad or narrow. It specifies what acts the proxy can make for you and which one he/she can’t.
• Powers are revocable. As long as you are able, you can change the person you want to be the proxy. You can also name alternates.
The power doesn’t become active until you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. The proxy should not be your doctor or someone who is part of your medical team. The proxy should be someone who respects your values and you trust to be an advocate for your choices.
A Living Will
• Don’t appoint a proxy
• Take effect when you are terminally ill and need life-saving support– which is narrower than being unable to make decisions for yourself.
• States your choices for the type of medical care you want.
• Makes decisions about pain management
• Makes decisions about organ donation
• Can be revoked at any time
There are many practical issues as well as legal issues you should review with your Tempe advance directive attorney such as what treatments are available if you have a known medical problem like cancer or heart disease.
Some end-of-life decisions to consider when preparing an advance directive:
You should review possible medical choices that may need to be made with your primary doctor as well as your lawyer. We work with end-of-life physicians. Some of the decisions are:
• Do not resuscitate orders. Decide if you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops beating.
• Tube feeding. Decide if you want to be fed essential nutrients and fluids intravenously/through a tube and for how long.
• Mechanical ventilation. If you can’t breathe on your own, a mechanical ventilator can help you breathe. You must decide if it should be used and for how long.
• Treatment of infections. Do you want to receive antiviral and antibiotic medications if you’re near death?
• Dialysis. If your kidneys don’t work, dialysis removes waste from your blood
• Palliative care. Many treatments can manage pain. You should decide if you want them.
• Where you die. Do you want to die in a hospital or at your home?
You can make a do not resuscitate order if you don’t have an advance directive. If you do have an advance directive, then you should mention whether you want a do not resuscitate order.
A health care power of attorney can be combined with a living will. You can also, in Arizona, make a mental health care power of attorney. This document allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you related to your mental health (whether you should see a psychiatrist or be admitted to a mental health facility) if you can’t make those choices on your own.
Speak with a respected elder care attorney today
Advance directives help to avoid disputes and help protect your end-of life wishes. Hospitals and doctors are required to respect well-drafted advance directive documents. To learn more about advance directives and to get the right legal document for your situation, please call phone Yaser Ali Law at (480)-442-4175 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.