Advanced Health Care Directive Lawyers in Georgia Ensuring Your Wishes Are Known and Respected
Advance directives are useful tools that can help you communicate your wishes when it comes to your medical care and treatment if you aren’t able to do so yourself. However, it’s important to understand exactly what these documents do and how they function as part of a larger estate plan. There are several types of advance directives, but an advanced health care directive may be one of the most commonly known and used. Keep reading to get answers to commonly asked questions about advanced directives in Georgia.
An advance directive ensures that your loved ones and your medical team are aware of your wishes and are able to carry them out as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Take the first step to create an advance directive or make sure your current advanced health care directive is up to date when you call our office today.
What Is a Georgia Advance Directive?
A Georgia advance directive is a legal document that specifies your wishes for your health care and medical decisions if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself for whatever reason. An advance directive can also name a health care agent, which is the person you wish to be responsible for making your medical decisions for you.
Sometimes, the worst never happens, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. An advance directive ensures that you still have a voice even if you are incapacitated. For example, if someone with a terminal medical condition has an advanced health care directive, they can specify things like whether they wish to be on life support or what medical interventions they do or don’t want.
Keep in mind that an advance directive only becomes active if you are deemed incapacitated. This could be physical, such as in the case of a being in a coma, or mental, such as when someone has dementia. It’s a last resort, and as long as you are able to do so, an advance directive doesn’t take away your decision-making power.
Who Can Be Named a Health Care Agent?
There are no specific requirements for someone to be named a health care agent, as long as they are over the age of 18. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this person will have control of your medical treatment and care, so you want to name someone who is close enough to you to have a good understanding of your wishes and be willing to execute them.
Many people choose a family member to be their healthcare agent, and this makes sense. Those closest to you are in the best position to be able to make decisions in your interests. However, some family members may have difficulty executing your wishes when the time comes. For example, if you don’t wish to have life-saving measures such as life support, it can be very difficult for family members to refuse this treatment and give up the hope they provide.
This is why it’s important to talk to anyone you are considering naming as a healthcare agent to ensure that they are comfortable making those hard decisions if the time comes.
What Is the Difference Between an Advanced Health Care Directive and a Living Will?
Healthcare advance directives and living wills serve similar purposes, but it’s important to understand that they aren’t exactly the same thing. A living will is a type of advance directive that is limited to what you wish to happen with your end-of-life care. It is used if you become permanently unconscious or if a terminal illness has progressed to the point you aren’t able to communicate your wishes.
A living will provides instructions for medical professionals as to what treatments and procedures you do or don’t want, and it’s also a place to include how your religious beliefs and preferences factor into your end-of-life care. If you’re not sure if you need a living will and a health care directive, talk to an estate planning attorney at Lunn Law LLC to find out which ones apply to your situation and ensure you are prepared.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Health Care Advance Directive?
If you become incapacitated without a Georgia advance directive, your care team will follow state laws to make medical decisions. In most cases, your closest living relative will be responsible for making your health care decisions. For many people, this is the same person they would name as a healthcare agent in an advance directive, but this isn’t always the case.
It’s also important to keep in mind that circumstances can change while you are incapacitated. For example, if you are married and don’t have an advance directive, your spouse would be the person responsible for making your decisions. But what if you are both in a car wreck and your spouse dies or is also incapacitated? In this case, the decision-making power falls to the next closest relative, which could be an adult child, a sibling, or a parent.
If you have a clear preference for who you want to be your healthcare agent, it’s best to put that in writing in an advance directive, and you may want to consider providing a successor list if the top choice is no longer able to do so.
Can an Advance Directive Be Challenged?
You may wonder if someone can challenge your advance directive if they don’t agree with who you named as the health care agent or if they don’t agree with your wishes. In general, the answer to this is no. An advance directive is a legally binding document, which means that it must be respected. However, if it’s believed that the advance directive is outdated or was created when you didn’t have sufficient capacity to be making those decisions, it could be challenged.
Sometimes, medical professionals may refuse to comply with your wishes. This is generally only done if the doctor or health care provider has an ethical or moral objection to your wishes or they believe that they don’t believe they are the correct medical decisions. However, in this situation, the doctor would be responsible for transferring your care to another healthcare provider who was willing and able to honor your wishes.
Why Should I Work With an Advanced Health Care Directive Attorney in Georgia?
Creating a Georgia advance directive can feel intimidating, and it’s something that many of our clients put off because it’s not something pleasant to think about. However, an advanced health care directive is an important part of preparing for what may come.
Working with an attorney who has experience helping clients create and manage advanced directives in Georgia can give you the peace of mind that the documents are executed and filed appropriately and that you are prepared for whatever might happen in the future. An attorney can also help you anticipate where potential issues may arise so that you can be proactive in creating your plan.
Call 770-762-4628 to speak with a member of our legal team about how we can help with this crucial step. We offer consultations where we can discuss your needs and desires in more depth so we can help you create an advance directive that reflects your wishes.