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Study Shows Two Thirds of Americans Lack a Health Care Directive

An effective estate plan for many California families includes creating a durable power of attorney for health care directive. It appears, however, that two-thirds of individuals across the nation fail to do so. Generally referred to as a living will, this important document gives a named agent the power to make medical decisions on behalf of the document’s creator and signer in the event of illness or incapacitation. 

As reported by Forbes magazine, a 2017 study revealed that only one-third of the American adults surveyed had a health care directive. The individuals surveyed included both healthy adults and patients with chronic illnesses. Specifying a trusted agent through a health care directive may provide a sense of additional comfort. A trusted individual will be available to ensure that medical care proceeds in a manner aligned with the document creator’s wishes. 

Without an agent, however, physicians may ask an individual’s spouse, adult children or caretaker how to proceed with end-of-life care or other medical issues. These individuals, however, may make medical decisions based on the advice of a physician without first obtaining a second opinion. He or she might also approve of medical treatment based on his or her own beliefs instead of the incapacitated individual’s wishes. 

Ways a health care directive provides legal protection 

An individual who becomes incapacitated or unable to make medical decisions based on his or her own cognizance may benefit from creating a health care directive. Preparing one ahead of time helps the designated agent to make informed decisions regarding: 

  • Comfort care including relief from pain 
  • End-of-life procedures and hospice care 
  • Life-threatening and life-sustaining treatments 

The National Institute on Aging provides more information on planning for an agent to make important health care decisions.

Concerned about your health possibly declining or a medical emergency accident? Call us today and get protection so when future medical problems arise you will be in good hands knowing you had the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo prepare your health care directive. This document gives you the choice to select a person qualified to make medical decisions on your behalf, when you can’t. Not having the document could be detrimental, a random person could be making a decision affecting your life.