Having an estate plan is important for asset protection and wealth distribution. Another part of it is outlining directions in the event of a critical illness, serious injury or other condition that prevents one from making medical decisions. 

An advance healthcare directive ensures that the medical team follows the wishes of the person. 

Choosing the right decision maker 

One part of an advance healthcare directive is naming someone to make medical decisions on one’s behalf. This person has power of attorney to direct healthcare providers. According to Stanford, if someone does not name a power of attorney, the medical staff will typically look to friends or family members to make these decisions, and they may not always be in agreement. 

Because this person is going to be in charge of serious medical decisions, it is worth taking the time to choose the right one. The person should be someone who is trustworthy to follow the directives, even if not in agreement. He or she should be someone who knows the person and understands the values and beliefs behind the decisions. The POA should also be someone who is not afraid to stand up to family members or providers about the decisions for care. 

Choosing medical procedures and care  

The State of California Department of Justice Attorney General outlines some of the care decisions to consider and make. These include 

  • Selection of healthcare facilities and providers 
  • Consent or refusal of treatment and maintenance of mental or physical condition 
  • Consent or refusal of feeding tubes, CPR, ventilation and other procedures 
  • Directions for end-of-life decisions 
  • Directions for organ and tissue donation 

The composer of the advance healthcare directive can revoke or replace it at any time.