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  • Cole Gorman

The importance of advance directives

During the uncertain times that the world is currently experiencing, many people feel like they don’t have control of anything. Stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other coronavirus-driven edicts place unprecedented restrictions on daily life.

Covid-19 has impacted people of all ages, with many becoming seriously ill and, following recovery, suffering after-effects. Tragically, others lose their lives. Seniors, in particular, have represented the most deaths from the virus.

Proactive steps towards peace of mind

In times of fear and uncertainty, proactive steps can provide clarity and control. A Power of Attorney for Healthcare, Living Will and if desired, an advance directive for health care (collectively referred to as the “advance directives”) as part of a detailed estate plan can provide peace of mind for everyone involved. Clear and complete documentation regarding intensive and end-of-life care preferences can remove the burden of loved ones forced to make those decisions should a plan not exist.

Simply put, the advance directives provide a guide on what to do and what not to do when it comes to interventions such as resuscitation or a feeding tube to keep a loved one alive. The advance directives also appoint a health care agent to help be your voice when you are unable to articulate your wishes.

No one wants to plan for their last days, nor do loved ones wish to consider the possibility. However, leaving no instructions behind creates significant distress for family members who are already enduring emotionally charged times.

While filling out the advanced directives can be as easy as checking boxes, specific information in the narrative form should also be included. Whether it involves the original document or revised versions, the language should be clear and understandable with simple and straightforward verbiage.

Naming health care agents to carry out your wishes if you are incapacitated is paramount. While only one should be “in charge” of administering the advanced directives, having multiple backups in a specific order keeps the responsibility and authority with a single person.

The loss of a loved one is a devastating time for a family. However, the suffering only increases when the wishes of a loved one are a mystery and subject to interpretation. The advanced directives will not lessen the blow. However, it can remove a stressful obstacle following a tragic event.

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