As you navigate the complexities of life, it’s important to have an experienced estate planning lawyer by your side to help ensure your wishes and legacy are protected. One essential aspect of estate planning is the creation of advance directives, which are critical documents that outline your healthcare preferences in the event that you are unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself.
At Pennington Law, PLLC, we understand that discussing and planning for such scenarios can be emotionally challenging. Our lawyers are here to guide you through the process with compassion and knowledgeable counsel. We have extensive experience creating comprehensive and legally sound advance directives that are tailored to your unique needs.
Let a Surprise, AZ, advance directives attorney help you safeguard your future and ensure your wishes are respected when it matters most. Turn to Pennington Law, PLLC, for assistance today by calling us or contacting us online for a confidential consultation.
What Is an Advance Directive?
Advance directives inform others of your preferred healthcare treatment and how to proceed with your care if you can’t make sound decisions or communicate what you want. An advance directive is often more than just one legal document. It describes numerous types of documents containing vital information for a person’s medical team, emergency personnel, and hospital staff. You could decide which medical decisions you want to include depending on your unique needs, such as:
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Artificial Breathing – If you have a valid prehospital medical care directive or do not resuscitate (DNR) order, CPR is prohibited if your heart stops beating. You can indicate whether you want a doctor to place you on a ventilator if you can’t breathe independently.
- Comfort Care – Comfort care aims to improve a person’s quality of life without prolonging it. Physicians can administer medication to manage and alleviate pain when someone is near the end of their life. You should consider how important quality of life is to you and whether you want specific measures to keep you comfortable.
- Fluids and Foods – A medical provider can administer necessary fluids and food by inserting a tube into your body. You can reject this form of medical intervention or state when you want it and for how long.
You can submit your advance directives to the Healthcare Directives Registry in Arizona. Healthcare professionals can refer to them to confirm the type of care they should provide.
What Types of Advance Directives Are There?
Multiple types of advance directives are available depending on your circumstances and preferences, including:
- Living Wills – A living will addresses your wishes regarding the type of medical care you want if you are in a persistent vegetative state, terminal condition, or irreversible coma. You must sign it with two witnesses before a notary public for it to be valid and legally enforceable. You can incorporate it into your estate plan as a standalone document or attach additional care planning forms, such as a DNR order.
- Durable Powers of Attorney – A durable power of attorney is also called a medical power of attorney. You can appoint an agent to make decisions about your medical care if you can’t communicate your wishes. Unless the document contains specific limitations, your agent is authorized to make any necessary treatment decision.
What Should I Consider When Preparing an Advance Directive?
Preparing an advance directive requires careful thought and planning. You should consider what you want and don’t want to ensure you include every possible scenario in the documents you create, such as the following:
- Your Age – If your age factors into healthcare decisions, include your preferences for specific ages to help your chosen agent step in and direct your medical team based on your age.
- Quality of Life – You might have strongly held beliefs or values about life-sustaining measures. Determine whether you want your life prolonged with breathing tubes and other devices.
- Financial Implications – Healthcare costs are expensive. You can prevent your family from taking on significant expenses by rejecting extraordinary life-saving methods if your goal is to relieve their burden.
- Your Responsibilities – If you’re responsible for caring for others, such as a child or dependent relative, consider how that might affect your choices while executing advance directives.
- Medical Facilities – Determine your preferences for living situations if you can no longer care for yourself. Indicate whether you would rather stay home and receive the needed treatment or move to a nursing home.
- Necessary Medical Intervention – A terminal or incurable illness might mean ongoing treatment and medication to manage your symptoms. Decide how you want that handled if you become incapacitated or your doctor concludes that additional care won’t help.
- Life Support – Communicate your wishes for CPR, intravenous fluids, ventilators, and other devices or equipment to save your life or keep you alive.
- Autopsy – State law requires an autopsy unless a medical examiner determines the death is due to natural causes. If there is no legal reason for an autopsy, you can decide whether you want a medical examiner to perform one. Alternatively, you can leave the decision to your surrogate.
- Comfort Care – You can choose how you want to spend the rest of your life in the event of a terminal illness. You can specify where you want to spend your time, whether at home or in a facility. Outline your preferences for who should be with you, the type of medication you prefer, the religious services you want, and other details.
- Final Arrangements – You can also direct your loved ones on arrangements for when you pass away. Let them know whether you want a burial or cremation. Inform them of readings or songs they should perform during the memorial service or celebration of life. You can also mention specific people you want or don’t want to attend.
What Are a Healthcare Representative’s Duties in an Advance Directive?
Your healthcare representative is responsible for tough decisions. They do more than instruct your doctors on life-or-death situations. They also manage day-to-day treatment, determine which facilities you should receive necessary care, and whether to move you to a nursing home.
You must select someone you trust and know will always do what you would want if you could communicate. Your representative’s duties can include:
- Meeting Your Best Interests – If your representative isn’t sure of your decisions or preferences under specific circumstances, they must act in good faith to proceed with what would serve your best interests.
- Managing Your Care – Your representative will need to use their best judgment while managing your medical care and guiding your doctors to make sure your wishes are respected.
- Reviewing the Documents – You create advance directives for a reason. If they contain language about the issue your medical providers encounter, your representative should refer to those documents to determine the appropriate treatment.
What Are Common Disputes Related to an Advance Directive?
An advance directive can avoid confusion and reduce the risk of family arguments. However, some are too vague or don’t cover every medical issue a surrogate or healthcare agent must address. When that happens, close family members might dispute certain decisions.
Problems can arise that delay necessary treatment or lead to legal battles, such as:
- Multiple versions of a living will, causing confusion over which is the most current version
- An executed durable power of attorney no one can locate when necessary
- The surrogate directs doctors on treatment the family knows the patient would not want
- The patient changes their preferences for life-sustaining measures but doesn’t update their living will
- Revoking an advance directive that occurred under a poor mental state, preventing them from understanding their actions
- The durable power of attorney conflicts with a family member’s wishes
- Advances in medical technology create confusion over whether the patient would want new or alternative treatments
- The signed documents are vague or unclear
- Older methods of care are unavailable or no longer appropriate for specific medical conditions
- The surrogate disagrees with the instructions in the advance directive and goes against the patient’s explicit requests
How a Surprise, Arizona, Healthcare Directive Attorney Can Help You
Although it can be challenging to have conversations about end-of-life care, planning for it might be necessary to make sure you receive treatment that doesn’t conflict with your desires, values, ideals, or religious beliefs. That’s why it is crucial to consult with an advance directives lawyer in Surprise, AZ, to outline your wishes in advance.
The Arizona estate planning lawyers at Pennington Law, PLLC, understand the legal requirements and nuances associated with advance directives. Your lawyer will ensure your documents comply with Arizona state laws and effectively communicate your healthcare preferences.
Your attorney will also draft your advance directive with clear language and provisions, minimizing the chances of confusion or misinterpretation by healthcare providers, family members, or legal representatives.
We also know that the laws regarding advance directives can change over time. We will be aware of any updates or revisions in the laws and could help ensure that your documents remain valid and up to date.
Contact an Experienced Surprise, Arizona, Healthcare Directive Lawyer Today
Advance directives are a crucial component of a comprehensive estate plan. By hiring an estate planning lawyer at Pennington Law, PLLC, to assist you in creating these vital documents, you can have confidence in knowing that your healthcare preferences will be respected if you are ever unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself.
At Pennington Law, PLLC, we believe in the importance of planning for the future. Call us or contact us online today for a confidential consultation with an experienced advance directives lawyer in Surprise, AZ.