What Is An Advance Directive?

For those who always wonder what are advance directives or what is health care proxy, the information stated in this post will be of immense importance.

An advance directive is a form which provides power to someone else to act on your behalf if at a certain point in your life, you become unable to look after your affairs. Directives which are most common include Living Wills, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies.

In the power of attorney, a person is listed, named or designated to act on your behalf in affairs that you could have taken care of on your own had you been capable of doing so. This person is generally referred to as the “agent”, although there are other terms for the person as well such as “attorney-in-fact”. The duties which your designated agent is authorized to handle include financial affairs such as real estate transactions, banking transactions, payment of bills, payment of taxes, matters regarding retirement as well as personal affairs such as taking care of personal and family matters.

The power granted in a power of attorney form can be given in order to ensure it continues to remain effective even if you become disabled or incapacitated. However, a power of attorney is incapable of granting your agent the authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding health care and similar matters. Health care matters and the authority to handle them are only listed in a Health Care Proxy. This type of directive enables you to nominate a trusted person, usually a family member, who would look after your medical care in the case you are unable to do it. Therefore, the power to take control of your health care decisions can only be mentioned in your health care proxy.

Among advance directives, one type of these documents which differs from others is a Living Will. It is different due to the fact that it expresses your personal desires in written form regarding the kind of medical treatment you wish for or don’t wish for in the case if you are ever permanently incapacitated. The wishes expressed in a person’s Living Will are directly concerned with the institutions or doctors providing you medical aid as well as the person or agent you have appointed under a health care proxy.

For people who don’t know what are advanced directives, they often confuse them with Testament (commonly termed a ‘will’) and the Last Will but these are used for entirely different reasons. Advance directives are in effect during your lifetime only and are voided upon death. On the other hand, a will only becomes effective upon the death of a person and decides the provisions of the distribution of their property.

To sum it up, with the help of advance directives in effect, a person can have a trusted individual to look after their affairs and manage them orderly at any point in that person’s life when he/she becomes unable to do so by him/her self.


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