what is an advance directive -- an older man and woman holding hands

2022-05-10

What Is an Advance Directive?

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When most people talk about estate planning, they think it’s just for making sure their property goes to their loved ones after they are gone. However, estate planning also encompasses directives for instances when you are still alive, but can not make important decisions for your own wellbeing. 

For example, if a health problem leaves you unconscious or unable to speak, what kind of measures would you want a medical professional to take? You can make your medical wishes part of your estate plan through an advance directive. Let’s talk more about what an advance directive is, and why it’s important in estate planning.

What is the legal purpose of an advance directive?

An advance directive is sometimes called a medical advance directive. It is a legal document explaining what types of medical decisions you want someone else to make on your behalf if  you are ever unable to speak for yourself. 

These types of decisions include: 

Using an advance directive, you can also appoint a specific person to carry out your medical wishes if you ever become incapacitated. This person becomes your medical or healthcare power of attorney

What is the difference between a living will and advance directive?

This is a question we hear a lot at Phelps LaClair. Many times people assume they do not need an advance directive if they already have a living will. While a living will often functions as a type of medical advance directive, there is a distinct difference between the two. 

A living will provides treatment instructions for medical professionals to follow. A living will only become active when you are at the end of a terminal illness and cannot be cured, or if you are permanently unconscious.

An advance directive also establishes medical care wishes for a terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. However, its scope is a bit broader. Unlike a living will, an advance directive can also apply to other medical circumstances (including serious injury, stroke, dementia, or coma) at any point in your life, not just at the end of it. 

Understanding Advance Directives in Arizona

Now that you better understand what an advance directive is, you have the information you need to decide if you wish to include one in your estate plan. The beauty of an estate plan is that it is completely customizable to your unique needs. 

However, at Phelps LaClair, we do recommend setting up an advance directive because it provides you with peace of mind that your medical wishes will be met at any stage of your life. If you have more questions about medical advance directives or would like to add one to your estate plan, call us today at 480-892-2488.

Photo by Nani Chavez on Unsplash

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