An advance directive protects your rights even if you become incapacitated and can no longer speak for yourself. These legally binding estate planning documents let you choose someone to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Centonzio Law and our advance directive attorneys have a deep understanding of the Missouri laws and necessary procedures to execute whatever advance directive meets your needs. Let us walk you through the process.
Advance Directives in Missouri
It’s hard to think about, but everyone should have advance directives in place.
An advance healthcare directive allows you to specify the medical care you receive or refuse. Other advance directives govern how your finances should be handled. This ensures your end-of-life wishes are accounted for and carried out should you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Benefits of an Advance Directive
Creating an advance directive has several benefits, including:
- Your loved ones will have a clear understanding of your final wishes.
- Your personal, medical, spiritual, and financial choices will be honored.
- Your family will not have to make difficult decisions on your behalf or without your perspective.
What if You Don’t Have an Advance Directive?
Without an advance directive or power of attorney, your loved ones might have to make heartbreaking decisions without your input. Most people would rather not burden their families with these choices.
Your doctor cannot choose for you, either. Sometimes, the decision to keep a dying patient on life-sustaining treatments might be up to a court-appointed guardian.
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Types of Advance Planning Directives
It’s never too early for advance planning.
Advance care planning is not only for older adults. In reality, it involves several medical, end-of-life, and financial scenarios. When you can’t speak for yourself, you want a medical directive that eliminates doubt or confusion about your wishes. You’ll also need to anticipate the financial and legal implications of your decisions.
Medical Directives & Durable Power of Attorney
A medical directive gives a clear understanding of your healthcare wishes should you be unable to communicate them. A durable power of attorney or medical power of attorney allows another person to make legal, financial, or medical decisions for you.
You might want to appoint one person as your durable power of attorney for financial and legal issues and another as your healthcare surrogate.
Choosing a Healthcare Surrogate
A healthcare surrogate is an individual you select to carry out your medical wishes. Although you choose the person, here are a few things to consider:
- The individual must meet state requirements for a healthcare agent – an attorney can explain these guidelines to you.
- Your healthcare agent cannot be your doctor or a member of your care team.
- The individual must agree to make decisions based on your wishes, not personal preference.
Most people ask a spouse, family member, friend, or member of their faith community to be their healthcare surrogate.
What a Medical Directive Includes
Here are the most common issues addressed in a healthcare directive:
Do Not Resuscitate
You may choose to have a DNR in your directive that states if and when you want medical personnel to restart your heart.
You decide when, if, and for how long you wish to be on a medical ventilator that breathes for you.
State whether you choose tube feeding to absorb nutrients in your body when you can no longer eat or drink normally.
Refusing aggressive medical treatments for a terminal illness does not mean you have to suffer. Palliative or end-of-life care allows you to manage pain and remain comfortable.
Your advance directive can also include directions on organ donation.
Updating Medical Directives
Your thoughts about end-of-life care and acceptable medical treatment could change as you get older or are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Remember, you have the right to change your medical directive at any time.
Updating a medical directive might include changing your healthcare surrogate or altering the care you want.