As you are contemplating your estate plan, one of the most important documents to consider is the advance directive. This document creates a principal-agent relationship similar to a power of attorney, however it is limited in scope and addresses sensitive healthcare decisions to be made during periods of incapacity. Without an advance directive, your true wishes may be left unknown and your end-of-life care may not take the course you would have intended. To avoid this disastrous result, our Bronx estate administration lawyers strongly encourage all clients to add a simple, yet integral, advance directive document as part of their estate plan.
Basics of the Advance Directive Document
When you are ready to execute an advance directive, you must select a healthcare agent. Your agent must advocate on your behalf according to the terms of the directive as decided by you; your agent may not deviate from your wishes even if under pressure from family. Many people choose a primary agent (e.g. a spouse or child) and a secondary or back-up agent in the event the primary agent is unavailable or cannot be reached in time to make a decision.
The advance directive comes into play once you have reached a point where you can no longer advocate for yourself. This may occur due to a severe injury, lingering illness or the onset of dementia or mental health issues. Your advance directive will contain “triggering” language to alert your agent and healthcare professionals as to the precise point in which you would like your agent to take over. Up to that point, you are still your own advocate and you are free to override your own advance directive if you wish. However, once a triggering event has occurred and you cannot advocate for yourself, the advance directive becomes operational and your agent is authorized to make all decisions moving forward.
Advance directives generally address end-of-life issues, including whether you would like medical interventions, a feeding tube, hydration or to be left alone. You may also indicate your wishes with regard to pain management, visitors, religious overtones and whether you wish to donate your organs upon death. These topics are sensitive, and few people enjoy contemplating their own death. However, without an advance directive, physicians are required to exhaust all medical interventions necessary in order to save your life, which may be contrary to your wishes.
Contact Our Bronx Estate Administration Lawyers Today
If you are ready to get started on your advance directive, please contact one of our Bronx estate administration attorneys right away. To get started, you can reach attorney Evan Rogers by dialing 718-994-1640.