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Do I Need an Advanced Healthcare Directive?


As we age it becomes increasingly important to consider creating or refining a will or estate plan. A well crafted estate plan not only helps put one’s mind at ease, knowing that their final wishes will be carried out, but it serves to console your survivors when you are gone. Having a legal decision on paper regarding your wishes takes the stress, argument, and frustration out of your family members’ hands. One of the most crucial, and unfortunately often overlooked, aspects of a complete estate plan is creating an advanced healthcare directive. To find out more about what an advanced healthcare directive is and what it accomplishes, read on and contact an attorney at your soonest availability.

When Are Advanced Healthcare Directives Used?

Advanced healthcare directives go by many names: living wills, medical directives, advance directives, personal directives, and advance decisions. They all do the same thing, which is to provide legal instructions for your medical care if you are rendered incapable of giving instructions yourself. Examples of when an advanced healthcare directive would come into play include:

  • Stroke;
  • Unconsciousness or coma;
  • Severe injury;
  • Cancer; and
  • Complicated or failed surgeries.

I Have Dementia. Can I Still Create an Advanced Healthcare Directive?

A person with dementia or Alzheimer’s can create an advanced healthcare directive so long as it is created while they still have legal capacity. It is important to begin working with an attorney before you become terminally ill or lose your legal decision making capacity.

What Does an Advanced Healthcare Directive Do?

Advanced healthcare directives provide your family and physicians with the following types of information so that there is no guess work when you become incapable of making decisions for yourself:

  • Do not resuscitate orders;
  • Use of breathing machines (ventilators), dialysis machines, and other life-supportive medical equipment;
  • Use of fluid IV or nutrition via stomach tube;
  • Palliative or comfort care;
  • Tissue or organ donation upon death; and
  • Much more.

Call Estate Planning Attorney Tara K. Frame to Begin Working on Your Advanced Healthcare Directive Today

According to the National Healthcare Decisions Day organization, studies have shown that less than half of severely or terminally ill patient participants had an advanced healthcare directive. This means that millions of people who fall ill are potentially having procedures performed on them or methods to keep them alive that they do not approve of. Shockingly, in instances where a healthcare directive did exist, only 65 to 76 percent of physicians knew of its existence. Moreover, only 12 percent of those who had an advanced healthcare directive had received physician input in the directive’s development. Working closely with an attorney and ensuring that your family knows your advanced health care wishes will help with implementation of your directive. Communication with your general practitioner and other physicians and healthcare providers will also help ensure that your wishes are carried out. To start, though, you need to create the directive. Call the Maryland Estate Planning Attorneys at Frame & Frame today at 410-255-0373 for help.




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