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Advance care planning is an important step that people often overlook or sometimes ignore. The process encourages you to ask and answer important questions about your future care. It's also a learning experience. You become more familiar with your healthcare options and learn more about your right to make decisions on your own behalf.
In creating your advance care plan, you also gain confidence in your ability to make critical choices and control your future care. When you complete the process you have a written document that lets your friends, family, and medical team know exactly what you want.
Advance care planning is often a challenging process. It forces you to face your future health care needs and acknowledge your mortality. It encourages you to have uncomfortable family conversations you might otherwise avoid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes this avoidance as a serious issue. CDC statistics show that many people have personal views and preferences about healthcare, hospice, and other important health issues. Unfortunately, they often fail to put those concerns in writing.
Advance Care Planning Decisions
When you create an advance care plan, you make informed decisions about your future health care. You consider possible conditions and illnesses. You examine your treatment, intervention, and resuscitation options. You also decide if you want to name someone to make decisions on your behalf. The process serves many important purposes.
- Encourages you to address health issues with your medical team
- Motivates you to have important conversations with your family
- Allows you to have a say in your future care decisions
- Relieves your family of the responsibility to make decisions on your behalf
- Helps you document your preferences to eliminate any misunderstandings
What Does Advance Care Planning Involve
Advance care planning is usually a step-by-step process. It documents your decisions and choices and it makes your intentions clear. Each step considers your preferred quality of life.
- Evaluate your current and potential future health
- Assess potential care scenarios
- Decide if you want extreme care options (resuscitation, surgery, ventilators)
- Name a personal representative to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to speak for yourself
- Execute a healthcare power of attorney
- Complete a document that explains your decisions
- Inform your family and healthcare professionals about your plan
Advance Directive Vs Living Will
A living will is a legal document that addresses your healthcare choices. It "speaks" for you should you become terminally ill or your medical condition renders you unresponsive. A living will is a critical healthcare resource when you're unable to make your own healthcare decisions.
As this video explains, a “living will” is different than a “last will”
A living will is just one of the available advance directives. Advance directives sometimes incorporate several documents that you prepare and execute before a critical health condition occurs. Advance directives include medical powers of attorney and healthcare proxies. They might also include a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, an organ donation directive, or an instructional directive. The documents confirm your care choices and allow you to have varying degrees of control over your care.
Advance Care Planning Steps
Just like your will and other important legal documents, your advance care plan requires research and effort. When properly prepared, your completed plan puts your intentions in writing. It allows you to govern all aspects of your future healthcare even when you lose the ability to communicate. Here are the steps to creating your plan.
Evaluate your quality of life
This can be the most difficult part of your planning. It requires that you evaluate your current quality of life and the health issues that may change how you live. You must consider how surgical procedures, resuscitation efforts, and other extreme measures might ultimately affect you. Your assessment requires that you discuss your medical condition with your healthcare provider.
Have a conversation with your family
Before finalizing your advance care plan, it's important to discuss your thoughts with your family. This is particularly true if you plan to name someone to make decisions on your behalf.
Identify a person to make decisions on your behalf
You know your family better than anyone. Before you choose to give someone your power of attorney or grant them decision-making powers, you must consider if they are the appropriate choice.
Formalize your plan & execute the paperwork
When you've made all of your decisions, you must complete the documents that formalize your plan. As you want your decisions to be as legally clear and legally binding as possible, you should work with an attorney as you go through all steps of the process.
Inform your healthcare provider
You should seek your healthcare provider's input before and after you finalize your plan. The medical professional who manages your day-to-day care should know how your choices affect his treatment recommendations and plans on your behalf.
Do You Need an Attorney to Complete Your Advance Care Plan?
Your advance care plan is an important legal document. Attorneys ensure that it expresses your wishes and holds up to legal challenges. If you search online you'll find boilerplate ACP documents, but they rarely address your specific needs. Attorneys make sure that your plan accurately expresses your legal wishes and intentions. As your representative, your attorney maintains copies of your documents to make sure they're available when you need them.
Consultant with an Experienced Florida Advance Care Planning Attorney Today
Advance care planning can be a complicated and emotional process to navigate alone. Working with an experienced advance care planning attorney is a worthwhile decision when determining what you need to set up for your future. For further guidance in your advance care planning process, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney today.