Living Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, & Advanced Healthcare Directives
If the above legal terms do not sound familiar to you, it probably means that you don’t have these documents. Here is what they are and why you need them.
A Living Will is a document intended to instruct future healthcare providers and your family about how you want to be cared for in the event you are ever incapacitated or in a persistent vegetative state. No one wants to think about this possibility, but we should all have one of these documents filled out. If you are ever in a car accident or suffer a debilitating stroke, it is important that your loved ones know your wishes in advance. Living wills eliminate doubt as to your wishes.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney is used to appoint someone as your decision maker in the event you are unable to make your own medical decisions. In some ways, this can substitute for a Living Will but I suggest you have both just in case the person you appoint pre-deceases you or is otherwise unable to serve as your attorney-in-fact. Every married person, at the very least, should appoint his or her spouse–that is assuming you are on good terms with your spouse and trust his/her decisions. You could also appoint a son or daughter or even friend. The important thing is that you pick someone you trust and who knows you well enough to make the right decisions for you.
Advanced Medical/Healthcare Directive
An Advanced Healthcare Directive (also called a Pre-Hospital Medical Directive) is essentially a “do not resuscitate” document used to inform hospital staff that you do not wish to have your heart or lungs restarted in the event they fail. The Arizona Attorney General provides a sample. You must print this document on orange paper and attached a recent photograph. You must also carry it with you at all times.
Free Forms Available Online!
The good news is that in Arizona, you do not even need a lawyer to draft these documents. The Arizona Attorney General provides free forms for all Arizona residents to use, and they are very simple. Here is the link. Most lawyers charge to prepare these documents but you can absolutely do them yourself now that I am spilling the beans on the free website.
Please take some time and think about putting together one or more of these documents for you and your loved ones. If you prefer to have a lawyer do them for you, I can certainly be of assistance.