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Importance of Healthcare Directives

importance of healthcare directives, emergency legal documents, legal healthcare documents, healthcare directive

Healthcare Directives: What They Are and Why They’re Important


One cannot overemphasize the importance of healthcare directives in ensuring that a person receives proper healthcare in the event of sudden incapacity due to an accident or adverse mental or medical condition.


In such an event, the person would be hard-pressed to properly communicate his or her wishes in terms of medical care – a situation that can be detrimental to the person’s health and safety. 


By having these vital legal documents, the person, his or her family, and the medical attendants will know exactly how the person should be cared for if the worst case happens.

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Establishing healthcare directives is a critical part of the estate planning process. This legal procedure is where an individual makes the necessary legal arrangements to name property heirs as well as put out healthcare directives such as healthcare power of attorney, living will, and DNR (do not resuscitate) and DNI (do not intubate) orders.


Estate planning likewise involves other tasks such as naming an estate executor and guardians for surviving dependents and even making advanced funeral arrangements.


Let’s now discuss the different medical care directive types to gain a deeper appreciation of the importance of healthcare directives.

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The Different Types of Healthcare Directives


Healthcare directives fall under three different categories: power of attorney, living will, and healthcare proxy. These directives have specific purposes so it’s critical that you know how they are different from one another.


Living Will

This document typically spells out the individual’s personal healthcare preferences in terms of the treatments that he or she would want to be administered by the attending medical personnel. 


A living will has a fairly limited scope compared to a healthcare power of attorney, but is effective nonetheless in capturing an individual’s medical care wishes. The specified treatments in such a will generally take effect when the individuals who made the will are already terminally ill or are in the end-of-life stage. 


The will can also contain a person’s wishes for or against pain relievers, feeding tubes, ventilators, or CPR. It’s a pretty flexible legal document as it can be revised and revoked at any given time if desired by the individual.


Healthcare Power of Attorney

Also called a medical power of attorney and durable power of attorney, this type of advance healthcare directive is slightly more powerful than a living will in the sense that it names an individual who can make critical medical care decisions on behalf of the individual making the power of attorney. 


Depending on the state, the person may be called a patient advocate, healthcare agent, healthcare surrogate, healthcare proxy, healthcare representative, or healthcare attorney-in-fact. The person could be a close friend, a family member, or a religious person trusted by the individual.



Although do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders can be included in the living will, they can be given by the individual to the attending medical personnel upon arrival at the hospital. This is provided, of course, that the individual still has a sound mind and physical capability to communicate such wishes. 


The doctor should take note of such wishes and then promptly indicate them in the patient’s medical record. However, this is not advisable since there’s no assurance that the patient could still have the mental and physical capacity to dictate such medical care arrangements at the hospital. 


It’s still best to have such advance medical directives included in a living will just to be sure that medical personnel and relatives won’t have to guess what to do in life-threatening situations.



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Importance of Healthcare Directives


Several important considerations of healthcare directives make them a critical part of any estate planning process. They should be part of every estate planning procedure given the delicate part they play in a person’s end-of-life medical care.


Here are the reasons why they’re vital in ensuring that individuals will be given proper medical care based on their preferences.


  • Save precious time. Advance healthcare directives are designed to help save precious time, especially in cases when it’s vital to determine the appropriate medical care to be given to the patient. 

  • DNR or DNI orders, for example, are important directives that must be known beforehand so doctors and other attending medical personnel don’t waste time making a guess or waiting for the relatives to make a decision.

  • Help prepare for end-of-life medical scenarios. Advanced medical care directives are forward-thinking means of preparing for all possible end-of-life medical situations. 

  • Whether it’s a directive that spells out the specific medical care if the individual has been seriously injured, comatose, terminally ill, or contracted dementia or Alzheimer’s, all adults should, ideally, have a clear medical care directive as early as possible since life can be unpredictable. 

  • Such a directive helps the individual, his or her family, and the medical personnel know exactly what to do for the patient in every possible medical situation.

  • Avoid unnecessary emotional burdenA living will can be a lifesaver and an indispensable tool for healthcare providers like physicians and nurses whose patients do not have the physical and mental capacity to express their healthcare wishes. 

  • Also, this legal document can ease the emotional burden of family members since they won’t be left guessing how the individual would have wanted to be medically taken care of in specific situations.

  • Do away with unnecessary pain and medical proceduresSince the individual essentially laid out in detail what he or she wants to be done in specific medical cases, there is a lower chance that the individual will be subjected to unnecessary pain and medical procedures. 

  • Advance medical care directives like living wills and powers of attorney are legally binding, so healthcare providers, patient’s relatives, and proxies (if any) are bound to respect their stipulations.



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I’m Ready To Help with Your Advance Healthcare Needs

My name is Andrea Aston, and as one of California’s most reliable trust and estate planning attorneys, I’m ready to help you handle your advanced healthcare directives. 


I have helped numerous clients complete their estate planning needs by preparing outstanding advance healthcare directives tailored to the individual client’s requirements and preferences.


As a trust and estate planning lawyer, I can use my legal expertise to guide clients in preparing their healthcare directives to ensure that everything is properly covered. Thanks to my experience in the business, I’ve become a highly trusted and sought-after attorney for California residents who need a skilled lawyer for their living wills and healthcare powers of attorney.


At the same time, my goal is to make estate planning affordable, stress-free, and easy.


If you want to know more about my legal services, please feel free to contact me at (760) 758-1565 for a free consultation. 


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