Advance Healthcare Directives: Living Wills
Estate Planning and Advance Healthcare Directives:
A thorough estate plan includes documents that describe arrangements for your health and financial needs in case you become unable to make decisions about such matters on your own. However, an Advance Healthcare Directive can also be a standalone document, and set up prior to completing a Will or other estate planning arrangements. In past times, people often do not think about creating Health Care Directives until they had reached an advanced age, or until they were stricken with a serious illness. Serious illnesses and accidents, however, can strike without warning at any age and the demand for Advanced Healthcare Directives (Living Wills) has increased.
Having a plan in place and ready to go can prevent the need for a judge to become involved in critical decisions about your health. It can also spare your loved ones the added stress of having to guess at what you might have wanted. Friends and family members often disagree in such cases. Having your own words in front of them can stave off potential conflict and avoid delay in implementing your treatment wishes.
Appropriate planning documents include an Advance Healthcare Directive and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Together, these documents can ensure that your wishes will be followed.
Getting an Advance Healthcare Directive / Living Will
You can execute a New Jersey Advance Healthcare Directive at any time to offer guidance to doctors and other caregivers regarding your future health care wishes.
An Advance Healthcare Directive is also known as a Living Will. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, which primarily addresses the disposition of a person’s property after death, a living will has utility only during a person’s lifetime.
Their enforceability is governed by the New Jersey Advance Directives for Health Care Act (N.J.S.A. §26:2H-53, et seq.).
What Can I Include In A Living Will
Examples of things that can be addressed in a Living Will include:
- the administration of life-prolonging medical care such as CPR, mechanical ventilation or tube-feeding;
- do-not-resuscitate directives; palliative or comfort care;
- and organ donation.
The Living Will / Advance Healthcare Directive document must be either notarized or signed by two adult witnesses who are not the person’s designated health care representatives. Witnesses must attest that the person is of sound mind and not subject to duress or undue influence. Sometimes people use video or audio recordings to increase the clarity and enforceability of living wills.
Who needs a copy of your Healthcare Directive / Living Will?
An advance health care directive is only effective if the appropriate people have access to it.
Consider providing copies to anyone who might be notified if you have an accident or another health crisis. Examples include your spouse, any adult children you have, other close relatives and friends, and your current medical care providers. If you live in a nursing home or another kind of assisted living facility, be sure that they have copies as well. A Living Will becomes operative only if and when a person becomes incapacitated from making a particular health care decision.
Get Started With Your Healthcare Directive
Planning for contingencies in life is not always easy. It can take a little soul-searching before you are clear about what exactly you would like to see happen in different health care scenarios. The documents themselves, however, do not have to take a lot of time or money to prepare.
Act now to ensure your wishes are formalized.
New Jersey Advance Healthcare Directives
Take control of your medical and future healthcare needs. Especially in uncertain times, it is important to express your wishes clearly so that you have the medical or healthcare treatment you want. Choose an experienced estate planning lawyer to help you establish your wishes in an Advance Healthcare Directive. It doesn’t take long to set up and the peace of mind lasts a lifetime.
Request a time to set up your Advance Healthcare Directive today: