Planning what type of medical care you want to receive can be advantage. This is very helpful especially when the time comes that you will no longer be capable of making decisions regarding your medical welfare. This planning includes writing down your wishes and the treatments you desire to undergo should anything happen to you.
You should also assign someone you trust to oversee your needs and follow the stipulated requirements you have indicated on your document. These are some important steps to take in order to ensure that you receive the care you desired.
Two Types of Health Care Documents
- Living Wills. It is a written statement that indicates your health care preferences the moment you become incapacitated.
- Powers of Attorney for Health Care. This document outlines the name of the person/s whom you trust to appoint as your health care agent. This person will make necessary health care decisions on the type of care you wish to receive and see to it that the doctor and other health care personnel provide it.
Who is Entitled to Make Health Care Documents?
Any person of legal age and of sound mind who understands how health care documents work can make a valid document pertaining to their health care.
When Does a Health Care Document Take Effect?
This document will take effect when the doctor determines that you lack the capacity or the ability to make your own health care decisions. This happens when a person becomes so ill or injured that expressing their health care wishes become impossible. Lack of capacity means:
- You cannot communicate through speaking, simple hand gestures, or writing.
- You are not able to understand the nature and consequences that are available from making health care choices.
If questions arise with regards to your capacity to understand treatment choices when you cannot communicate clearly, the doctor together with the close relatives and the health care agent will make a decision indicated in your health documents.
Some states allow your agent to step in immediately if you have given the authority for immediate enactment of your document even without the consent of the doctor.
If you are still capable of making your own health decisions, the agent cannot override what you would like in terms of treatments.
In the event that you are no longer able to make your own decisions, your agent should act in your best interest and diligently follow what was written in your health care directives.
Do Your Health Care Directives Cease to Apply?
As long as you are alive, your health care declarations are in effect unless you revoke them or a court steps in, which is a very rare occurrence. Some specific situations that can revoke your health care declarations are:
- Document is revoked. You have the capacity to revoke or change your health care document anytime. You should make sure your agent and health care providers are aware of your decisions
- The court invalidates your document. If someone questions the validity of your health care directives, the court may step in although most of the judges do recognize the fact that the court is not the place to make health care decisions
- Doubts about your mental capacity to make a valid health care document. If questions arise regarding this, that person can ask a court to invalidate the document
- A court revokes your agent’s authority. If another person believes that your agent did not act in your best interest, the concerned person can go to court and ask for the investigation of the agent. The court has the power to invalidate your entire document and can assign a conservator or guardian to make health care decisions for you.
- You get a divorce. When you name your spouse as your health care agent and your marriage ends in divorce, the health care declaration is still in effect and only the authority given to the spouse becomes invalid. If you had named an alternative agent, that person will take over
- After your death. The written health care document is no longer necessary after you die except if there are posthumous instructions to your agent that he has to follow through.
Source: 1-2-Law: www.12law.com