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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Sacramento Elder Lawyer Advice: Create a Personalized Healthcare Directive

April 5, 2013

When a Sacramento elder lawyer’s clients enter a hospital or other medical facility, they have the peace of mind that comes from knowing their healthcare wishes will be made clear to the staff. This is because the attorney and the client were able to sit down and go through various situations and scenarios to put together a personalized healthcare directive. When you don’t have one of these in place, the hospital will likely ask you to use their forms to create something similar.

While it’s better to fill out their form than to have no healthcare directive at all, it’s important to remember that it will not be personalized to fit your needs. When the hospital or other institution puts their forms together, they do so for a wide, unknown audience. The topics covered will be those that the hospital (or its lawyers) find important, rather than those that are meaningful to you and your family.

Basically, this document is where you name the person that you want to make medical decisions should become unable to do so yourself. Oftentimes, this person is a spouse, but if you are unmarried or simply want to appoint someone else, then a healthcare directive is especially important.  Remember that if you don’t assign the role, the legal system will do so for you, choosing a “close” blood relative, such as your adult children (or your parents, for younger folks) to make the medical decisions you are unable to make at the time.

Provide Guidance about Your Wishes

Your Sacramento elder lawyer will not only have you appoint someone, he or she will also help you to make many medical decisions in advance. By recognizing potential medical situations and declaring your wishes, you can lessen the burden for the individual who will ultimately be responsible for your care. For example, what are your feelings about life-sustaining measures such as feeding tubes and respirators? Are there situations in which you would want these used and/or situations where you would not?

This is also a good place to make any religious or cultural restrictions known. For example, some groups do not agree to have blood transfusions performed. If this is the case for you, then your healthcare directive would be the place to make it known. Ideally, you would discuss your thoughts and decisions with the person you have named so that he or she is aware of your feelings and can use that understanding to guide him or her if other circumstances were to happen. Obviously, your healthcare proxy won’t cover every potential situation, so it’s beneficial for the appointed person to have a good understanding of your beliefs in order to make decisions that are in alignment with what your wishes would be. Knowing your wishes and what is important to you when it comes to healthcare decisions will enable your healthcare agent to become your advocate and ensure that you will get the healthcare to is best suited to your needs.

Important to Remember

If you have gone to the effort to work with your Sacramento elder lawyer to create your personalized health care directive, make sure that it isn’t undone by filling in one of the generic healthcare proxy forms at the hospital.  If you use their form, you can negate the one you created with your attorney.

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Very professional, comprehensive service and extremely valuable. Heather and her team are very knowledgeable and we feel they have our best interests at heart. They make uncomfortable decision conversations possible and manageable. Working with Heather we were able to focus our attention on important issues that we questioned or purposely avoided for too long. Now that these questions are answered and our family is covered, it's a wonderful feeling.

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