Apr 5, 2011

National Health Care Decisions Day: Doing Something About the Disconnect

 When it comes to creating Advance Health Care directives, there's a definite disconnect between what Americans say and what they do.

According to a 2006 Pew Research study, most of us believe we have the legal right to manage our own end-of-life decisions, free from interference from the government. However, the survey also showed that only 29% of us have a Living Will -- the very document which allows us to keep control of our medical destiny! A Living Will can can also be a great comfort to our loved ones if they are ever called on to make those difficult decisions for us.

The disconnect is understandable, really. Let's face it, talking about getting sick or disabled isn't a walk in the park for most of us. It takes a degree of courage.To remind the public about the importance of creating Advance Health Care Directives, April 16 has been declared National Health Care Decisions Day. Click here to read more about National Health Care Decisions Day. 

In my experience, clients are often confused about the different types of Advance Health Care Directives. There are actually several types; each applies to a specific type of situation. One common misconception is that a Health Care Power of Attorney (also known as a Health Care Surrogate) is permanent. That's not necessarily so. For example, if you are under general anesthesia, your Health Care agent may be called on if your surgeon needs direction. Once you are recovered and able to communicate your own wishes, your agent no longer has the authority to make decisions for you.

A second misconception that I have come across with my estate planning clients is that  a Will empowers someone to make your health care decisions. This is not accurate. A Will is a death instrument only, and has no bearing on who or how your health care decisions are made while you're alive.

Read more about the different kinds of Florida Advance Health Care Directives.

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