The purpose of advance medical directives

When most Nevada residents think of estate planning, they think about wills and trusts. However, other documents are just as important — if not more important — during the life of the individual creating the estate plan. Advance medical directives allow one to make decisions regarding his or her health care in advance of a time when he or she may not be able to do so.

Most people have heard about living wills and health care powers of attorney. Here in Nevada, advance medical directives can serve both purposes. Many people express a desire not to be kept alive if they are in a vegetative state. In an advance medical directive, an individual can decide what kind of life-saving measures he or she would like in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated. Such choices may include whether one would like to be resuscitated and what kind of treatment an individual does not want if at the end of his or her life.

Realistically, it is impossible to account for every circumstance. Therefore, one can appoint a health care proxy who has the power to make decisions on his or her behalf. This person is not appointed to contradict any of the person’s directives, but instead can make choices in the event that a situation is not covered in the advance medical directive, or in the event that it is declared invalid.

Without advance medical directives, an individual’s family will have to go to the courts in order to obtain the right to make decisions on one’s behalf. In an emergency, this could cause significant delays in a person’s care — not to mention it can be costly. Family members will also be spared having to go through this process during a time when they are already undoubtedly distraught.

Source: FindLaw, “The Definition of Power of Attorney, Living Will and Advance Directives“, Jan. 12, 2015

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