Most people would agree that having legal documents that express your wishes regarding healthcare is important. Despite this, only about one in three adults in the United States has completed some form of advance directive. Older adults and those suffering from chronic disease are more likely to complete them, but everyone should. You never know when an accident or illness can strike and render you unable to express your wishes to healthcare providers.
If you have been thinking about creating advance directives or updating existing ones, do not delay. They are key components of any estate plan. They can put your mind at ease and ensure your loved ones do not have to make critical end-of-life decisions without direction.
Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has helped clients in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and Walla Walla, Washington, and Portland, Oregon craft and execute advance directives for more than 30 years. He guides clients and their loved ones through the process with experience and compassion. Contact the Law Offices of Robert Taylor-Manning to schedule a free consultation.
Advance directives are legal documents that express your wishes regarding medical treatment and healthcare in the event that you are rendered unable to communicate those wishes yourself.
A healthcare directive, also called a “living will,” communicates what measures (if any) you want healthcare professionals to take to prolong your life. This directive also expresses your wishes regarding care such as pain management and organ donation, and what medical professionals should make decisions regarding the state of your health or likelihood of recovery.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to appoint a trusted family member or friend as your healthcare representative to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
If you are terminally ill and have discussed end-of-life care with your physician, you may want to have in place a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) or a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR).
Any adult with the mental capacity to do so can serve as your healthcare representative. You should choose someone who understands your wishes, your ideologies, and your faith traditions. Most people choose a spouse, family member, or close friend.
The healthcare representative has the legal authority granted in the durable power of attorney for healthcare to make sure the wishes you have expressed in your living will are carried out. The representative only has this authority if you are incapacitated and unable to express your wishes. The representative should act in good faith and protect your best interests. While your representative will have the authority to make some medical decisions on your behalf, they cannot override the decisions you express in writing in your living will.
If you do not appoint a healthcare representative, Washington law designates a succession of individuals who may make decisions for you, including a spouse, adult child, parents, siblings, adult grandchild, and others.
You should provide your healthcare representative — as well as any alternates named in the durable power of attorney — with copies of your living will and the power of attorney. Washington law requires your signature on the durable power of attorney to either be witnessed by two individuals or a notary public.
You are the only person who can make modifications to your advance directive. You can revise the wishes expressed in your living will at any time. You can also create a different durable power of attorney for healthcare. Any updated or modified advance directives should be fully executed and will revoke any previous advance directives.
Advance directives provide you with peace of mind, knowing your wishes for healthcare will be carried out if you are unable to express them on your own. They also provide peace of mind for your loved ones by not putting them in the position of making critical decisions in the moment.
If you do not have an advance directive or want to revise an existing directive, now is the time to formalize your wishes. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can answer your questions and craft an advance directive that expresses them. These are your decisions to make, but a skilled attorney can help guide you along the way.
Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has the legal knowledge and experience to explain your available options and put you in a strong position to move forward with peace of mind. If you live in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, or Walla Walla, Washington or Portland, Oregon, reach out to the Law Offices of Robert Taylor-Manning to schedule an appointment to discuss your advance directive.