No matter who you are or what state your health is in, it’s important to consider creating a health care directive. As you work through creating an estate plan, you should not only plan for after your passing, but also for events that may happen while you are alive.

What is in a health care directive?

A health care directive allows you to make decisions for yourself in the event that you are not able to make your own choices. It can include things like:

  • Naming your health care proxy, or power of attorney, to make medical decisions on your behalf
  • Nursing homes
  • Life support, like ventilators and tube feeding
  • Blood transfusions
  • Dialysis
  • Surgery
  • Do Not Resuscitate orders
  • Organ donation

Will the doctors follow my health care directive?

Generally, a legal health care directive must be followed by your medical provider. Your health care proxy will have the same duty to help your doctors carry out your directive, but there are a few exceptions that can give your medical professional the ability to go against your directive. These include situations in which your directive decisions against the conscience of your doctor, against the medical institutions’ policies or would create ineffective health care.

Even with these factors, your health care directive should still inform their decisions. Your medical provider must be in contact with your proxy so that they have the chance to enforce your directive if necessary.

A health care directive is an important part of your estate plan. It gives you a say in your health care in nearly any circumstance. It can also be a huge help to your family because it lets them know exactly what you want. To create a health care directive, you should talk with your estate planning lawyer.