An Advance Health Care Directive is a document that every adult should have. There are two main parts of this document, the first part allows you to nominate an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. The second part is more of a living will, where you can write out your health care wishes. Only about a quarter of Americans have an Advance Health Care Directive established.

Here are a few tips to help you get started if you are looking into establishing an Advance Health Care Directive or if you are looking to improve your current directive.

Education

Take time to learn about the different options. You can include information like end-of-life choices and the disposition of your remains within your directive.

Select an agent that will be your advocate

This person may be making all of your medical decisions at some point. Do you trust that they will follow your wishes and be able to speak up to advocate for your well-being?

Communicate

Have a conversation with your agent about your directive and your wishes. Additionally, you can notify other loved ones about your documents and who you’ve selected as your agent. Knowledge is beneficial in this situation, the faster your agent is notified the quicker they will be able to make decisions and it may reduce family tensions if hard choices need to be made.

Notify your doctor

And other medical professionals that you have an Advance Health Care Directive.

Keep your directive up to date

Your health and treatment options will change over time. You may also change your mind about what type of treatment you may want so it is important to review your document and make updates as needed.

Give your primary doctor and medical facility a copy of your directive

Having a directive on file may make things easier for your agent. Make sure the copy on file is up to date! Especially if you have changed agents, it is pertinent that you keep this updated so the proper person is contacted.

Make it accessible

If no one knows where your document is it won’t do you any good. We’ve heard clients say they keep their’s on the fridge so it’s in plain sight. There are also companies like DocuBank that keep your directive on file and give you a card to keep in your wallet so that they can send it anywhere in the world if needed.

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