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The importance of preparing advance health care directives early

While important, talking about end-of-life decisions with family and loved ones is never easy or particularly enjoyable. However, New York families may want to consider making a point not just to discuss these important topics but to prepare the relevant documentation well ahead of time. From advance health care directives to durable powers of attorney, the earlier these important legal documents are dealt with, the more prepared everyone involved will be for unforeseen emergencies.

Common advice holds that everyone should have, at the very least, an advance health care directive and durable powers of attorney for both health and finances. The designated durable power of attorney for health care names the person who will make medical decisions if the individual becomes incapacitated. The health care directive instructs medical providers such as doctors and nurses as to what the individual wishes in regards to end-of-life health care, such as measures for artificial life support.

There are additional, more-specific forms that individuals can consider as well, such as burial decisions and who is allowed to receive sensitive personal information. The earlier these decisions are made, the better, but the process becomes increasingly important as individuals age. While no one likes to think about these issues, the more open discussion and planning that takes place, the better prepared everyone will be.

Advisors recommend involving not just a lawyer and family members in the decision-making discussions but close friends and even health care providers, when applicable. As the documentation and laws vary greatly from state to state, the process is generally best reviewed with the counsel of a New York living will attorney, who will have all the necessary forms at hand for advance health care directives and durable powers of attorney. Preparing all these important documents ahead of time will make the process much smoother for loved ones when the time comes.

Source: news.stlpublicradio.org, "What you need to know when making end-of-life health-care decisions for family, yourself", Kelly Moffitt, April 18, 2017

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