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Advance directives: what they are and why they are important

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2021 | Estate Planning

Creating a Washington will, naming beneficiaries and setting up trusts for a child’s education is often what people think about when setting up an estate plan. However, you can also make your wishes known if you experience an illness or catastrophic accident that leaves you unable to communicate. 

According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, advance directives let your loved ones know what steps you want taken if you become incapacitated. 

Living will

This document states your wishes regarding the care you want if you become incapacitated. When making your decisions, consider the importance you place on independence and remaining self-sufficient. You may not want some of the medical interventions available if there is no hope of recovery. Situations typically covered by a living will include the following: 

  • Comfort care 
  • Dialysis 
  • Donating your body for research 
  • Mechanical ventilation 
  • Organ and tissue donation 
  • Resuscitation 

You can have multiple advance directives if you have residences in more than one state. 

Medical power of attorney

Also known as a health care proxy, this document appoints an individual to make medical decisions for you if you cannot. Choosing the right person, such as a spouse, sibling or adult child, is critical. The person you select should understand your feelings regarding extraordinary measures. He or she is your advocate and must be ready to fight for you if disagreements arise over treatment options. 

Advance directives are a vital aspect of your health care. Documenting your end-of-life choices may make the healthcare decisions easier on loved ones and medical personnel who must often take action quickly. Writing an instruction letter and naming durable powers of attorney are among the additional steps you can take that help you care for your family after you have passed away.