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Directing Your Health Care Decisions

It happens more often than you know.  A loved one is in an accident or becomes ill to the point where they are incapacitated and unable to make their own health care decisions.  Family members are then left to make those decisions for their loved one, but the family members disagree.  The family, who is already reeling from their loved one being hospitalized and in critical condition, then is forced to take their family dispute to a judge to resolve.  Even after the judge rules, however, the hurt feelings and emotions follow the family and impact their family relationships for quite some time.

Such a situation could have been avoided if the loved one had executed advance health care directives.  Indiana allows several different methods for a person to set forth their health care directives well in advance of such decisions needing to be made.  These include living wills, powers of attorney for health care, do not resuscitate orders, and physician orders for treatment.  Each of these legal documents are for a distinct purpose.  A living will becomes effective when a doctor can certify that death is imminent or will occur in a short period of time, and it will set forth what you want to occur in that situation.   On the other hand, a power of attorney for health care allows you to name someone to make your health care decisions if you are not able to do so.  Lastly, a physician order for scope of treatment allows someone who is seriously ill to direct a doctor as to your preference for life sustaining measures.

Health care directives are not just for chronically ill and elderly individuals.  By spending a little time before you become ill or injured, you can make sure that your wishes are followed and avoid placing the burden of such decisions on your family.  Talk to your family, friends and doctor to help you decide what you want to happen if you are ever unable to make those decisions yourself.  And feel free to contact Altman, Poindexter & Wyatt llc for assistance in making sure your wishes are set forth in proper health care directives and a part of your estate plan.

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