Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Advanced Healthcare Directive

Back again with more thoughts on Estate Planning after completing your divorce.  Have you thought about your long-term health and end of life decisions?  Most of us never do.

If you had a longer term marriage, while watching the movie of the week, about that person in the car accident and coma, you might have shared with your ex, your views on what you would want if that happened to you.  Problem is, your ex is no longer in charge, or likely should not be in charge, but may be on your old papers.  Who helps with those end of life decisions?  Very likely you haven’t had that discussion with your children or other family members, and the Bar-B-Que discussion with “the gang”, doesn’t really count.  No time like the present, so you might as well do that at the same time as preparing your Advanced Healthcare Directive.  Remember, while this is about you, this isn’t for you.  It is to make sure your children, family or others, know your wishes, but more so, to be sure that they are not left to decide what you want, when you never told them.  Most hospitals will have an approved form that they will use when you are already in the hospital.  But if you are unable to communicate, or are otherwise incapacitated, it is already too late. 

What does an Advanced Healthcare Directive do?  A good Advanced Healthcare Directive clearly states exactly what you want, as far as your care, medical treatment, extreme efforts for treatment or sustaining life.  It generally does not become effective until you are hospitalized and until you are deemed to no longer have capacity to make decisions or communicate those decisions.  It generally designates who will make the decision as to whether you have capacity, such as your trusted physicians or special family members.  It will generally cease to have impact when your health has been restored, but in the event of your passing, it will also have your express desires for the disposition of your remains, perhaps relative to your religious belief, or other final affairs.

While this is typically a difficult issue to consider, let alone discuss, I can assure you that the peace of mind that you and your family will have, after these thoughts have been shared and are memorialized in a properly created Advanced Healthcare Directive, is immeasurable.  A good attorney can at least help you begin this process, while you prepare this part of your overall Estate Plan.
In the days that follow, I will give you more reasons to create, review and revise your Estate Plan. However, if you are interested in learning more about an Estate Plan, Wills, Trusts, Advanced Healthcare Directives, or Divorce, Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Property Division, Modifications, Remarriage, or Pre-Nuptial Agreements, and you live in Santa Clara County or thereabout, please contact me at or at my other websites, or at for Fred Begun