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Key Questions to Ask When Creating a Health Care Advance Directive


Do you want your life to be prolonged by artificial means? Do you want to be resuscitated if you are clinically dead? Do you want your respiration to be supported when your lungs fail? These and many other questions will come before you and the those who love you when a fatal disease or traumatic condition hits. An estate planning instrument used is a Health Care Advanced Directive (HCAD). This is drafted before you become ill or incapacitated is the most effective and less expensive way available to legally assure that your medical preferences will be honored when you become unable to communicate due to a tragic accident or some kind of medical condition or terminal disease.

A Medical health care directive is a legal instrument in which you authorize a person you trust to make critical medical decisions on your behalf should you be involved in an accident or fall into a comatose state and become unable to express yourself. The person you designate is called your attorney-in-fact or your agent. That person will be your voice every time a doctor, a nurse or any other medical staff needs you to make a decision regarding your treatment.

You might have some religious beliefs and in someway these beliefs can affect the way you would like doctors to treat you for any type of medical condition. Some people do not believe that their blood should not be mixed with the blood of others. In specific cases, you must have a healthcare power of attorney. However, the best practice is for every person over 18 years old to have a HCAD.

It is highly recommended that you have your HCAD drafted while you are healthy and completely conscious so that no one can later on contest your power of attorney. The only defense in case a power of attorney is contested is that you made the decisions contained therein voluntarily, well aware and informed of its significance and consequences.

An HCAD should be drafted according to the strict laws in your state. It is critical that you follow the law requirements in your state so that the document is legally effective. A mere mistake of format, may make your HCAD invalid. You must review the requirements in your state to avoid future nullification of the document.

One general and basic requirement is that the HCAD be notarized. In other words, you and your witnesses must sign it in the presence of a notary public. The notary public will review the document and your identity. He or she will ask you if you understand what you are about to sign. Once you and the witnesses sign, the notary public will also sign and stamp the document with his or her official stamp. The notary’s signature guarantees the persons who sign the document are actually the persons they say they are; and were physically present before him or her.

Your witnesses should be of legal age, and they must be able to read and write. With their signatures they will be attesting that they read the document and that at the time you and they sign the document you were acting voluntarily and in a sound state of mind. The witnesses cannot be related to you or the notary. They should be individuals with no interest in the situation.

You don’t have to pay a fortune to get a HCAD. You can hire an attorney to do one specially drafted for you or you can simply do it yourself by filling out a standard form. Regardless what your choice is, go ahead and have your HCAD done today. Tomorrow may be too late.

Evane Abbassi, founder and author of the Legendary Wills and Trusts 12-in-1 Software, has a Juris Doctoral Degree and holds an LLM degree in tax and estate planning. A degree that 6% of all lawyers hold. She is a Trustee for some of the wealthiest families in the US. Learn more about Evane’s simple 12-in-1 Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts Software at http://www.LegendaryWillsandTrusts.com .