As you and many other New Jersey residents know, ending up in a difficult situation without any instruction can be stressful. Undoubtedly, you would not want to unnecessarily put your loved one in that type of situation. In particular, you do not want your family to feel additional stress about handling your care properly in the event of incapacitation on top of such an already stressful ordeal.
Fortunately, you can help your family know what to do in a situation that pertains to your health by creating an advance medical directive. This document can act as a crucial part of your estate plan, and you may already be considering its benefits.
What can you address with an advance directive?
It is possible for any person to end up incapacitated due to illness or injury and, as a result, not have the ability to voice how he or she wants certain medical care handled. With an advance medical directive, you can address the following issues and more depending on your specific desires for care:
- Whether you want CPR or other resuscitative measures taken in the event that you stop breathing or that your heart stops beating
- Whether you want medical staff to utilize artificial nutrition to keep you alive, meaning that feeding tubes and IV fluids sustain you
- Whether you want medical staff to use a ventilator or other life support to extend your life once you cannot perform necessary life-sustaining measures, like breathing, on your own
- Whether you want comfort care in a potentially terminal situation and what comfort care means for you
It can certainly be difficult to make these types of decisions about your own care, so you can imagine that it would be even more difficult for a family member to try to guess what you would want. You may need to do some deep thinking to determine whether you would want life-sustaining treatment, even if it would mean living with a serious disability for the rest of your life or whether an already existing disability affects your views on living past another debilitating event.
The choice is yours…if you plan
Planning ahead means that you can make these serious decisions about your care and treatment and not have to leave such decisions up to family members, who could make choices that you do not agree with. If you believe that your estate plan could benefit from an advance medical directive, you may want to ensure that your wishes are legally binding by working with a knowledgeable attorney.