If you are confused regarding the differences between living wills vs. advance healthcare directives, you are not alone. Understanding the legal distinctions between the two, however, can help you make better decisions regarding your own estate planning needs as they relate to your health care. At Centonzio Law, PLLC – proudly serving both Missouri (813-710-7290), and Florida (727-900-9455) – our experienced estate planning attorneys dedicate their practice to helping clients like you effect estate plans that protect their legal rights while reflecting their preferences regarding health care. Contact us today to learn which estate planning documents can best accomplish your goals and wishes.

Differences Between Living Wills and Advance Healthcare Directives

Advance healthcare directives (in both the State of Missouri and the State of Florida) refer to a range of legal directives that outline your overall healthcare preferences. Advance healthcare directives include many kinds of documents within this broad category, and a living will may be one of them. A living will is created to specifically address your preferences regarding medical treatment, practices, and procedures in the event you become terminally ill.

Understanding Living Wills

When it comes to living wills vs. advance healthcare directives, a good place to begin is with the living wills themselves, which – as mentioned – are a specific kind of advance healthcare directive. If you have preferences and wishes related to the care you will receive at the end of life (in the event you are unable to make them for yourself when the time comes), your living will can spell out your wishes. in fact, your living will can address all the following important healthcare matters:

  • Providing specific guidance to your doctors and healthcare providers
  • Providing greater clarity regarding your healthcare wishes and allowing increased closure for your loved ones
  • Helping to prevent conflict regarding your end-of-life care among your family members
  • Helping to limit the emotional burden faced by your loved ones at the time of your death
  • Remaining the decision-maker regarding your own healthcare concerns

Medical Treatments and Procedures

Some of the medical treatments and procedures that living wills commonly address (according to the Mayo Clinic) include:

  • Antibiotics or Antiviral Medications – Are you invested in having infections treated aggressively as you near life’s end?
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – What efforts do you want to be employed if your heart stops beating?
  • Comfort Care – Comfort care is also called palliative care, and it addresses issues such as receiving pain medications, avoiding invasive medical treatments and tests, receiving ice chips, being allowed to die at home, and more.
  • Dialysis – Under what conditions and for how long do you want waste removed from your blood and your fluid levels managed if your kidneys are no longer functioning?
  • Organ and Tissue Donation – If you donate your organs and/or tissues for transplantation, you will receive temporary life-sustaining treatment while the donation procedure is enacted. You can also specifically address the matter of donating your body to a medical school or another donation program for scientific research.

Do Not Resuscitate

You can include do not resuscitate (DNR) and/or do not intubate (DNI) orders in your living will, but you can also employ such orders independently. If you enact either or both of these orders, however, it is important to include them in your medical records, to discuss the matter with your doctor, and to carry a copy of the order or orders on you (in the event of an emergency). Even with all of these safeguards in place, however, it is a good idea to discuss the matter up front any time that you are admitted to a medical facility or hospital.

Making decisions regarding a living will can prove complicated and legally challenging, and if you have strong preferences and wishes regarding your end-of-life health care, reach out to the experienced estate planning attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC, today.

Understanding Advance Healthcare Directives

The matter of living wills vs. advance healthcare directives is challenging, but once you have a better grasp on what each encompasses, you will be better prepared to make the right decisions for you moving forward. Your advance healthcare directive includes all the legal orders related to your preferences regarding future health care, including your living will. Your advance healthcare directive will be consulted in the event you become seriously ill or injured and cannot make critical medical decisions on your own behalf. Those instances when your advance healthcare directive will come into play include:

  • If you are incapacitated by a stroke
  • If you are incapacitated by a coma
  • If you are incapacitated by dementia

Your advance healthcare directive can go into considerable detail regarding the specific medical care, treatment, and procedures that you do want and those that you do not.

Healthcare Proxy

In your advance healthcare directive, you can also address the matter of a healthcare proxy, who is a trusted family member, spouse, loved one, or friend whom you imbue with the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf (in the event that you are unable to do so) – in accordance with your wishes. Choosing someone whom you trust to make healthcare decisions that align with your wishes – under what are likely to be extremely stressful conditions – is imperative.

DNR and DNI Orders

Again, your do not resuscitate and/or do not intubate orders can be part of your overall advance healthcare directive, can be part of your living will, or can be entirely separate. If you do, however, have a preference on these matters, it is important to make it known.

Reach Out to an Experienced Health Care Attorney Today

When it comes to living wills vs. advance healthcare directives, the important part is ensuring that your healthcare wishes and preferences are well represented and that your legal rights are protected. The distinguished health care attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC in both Kansas City, Missouri, and Largo, Florida, recognize how significant these matters are to you and are here to help. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 813-710-7290 in Kansas City or at 727-900-9455 in Largo today.

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