What is an Advanced Directive for healthcare in Alabama?

Serving Families and Individuals in the Anniston, Gadsden, and Talladega, AL Areas

photo: Advanced Directive

Many of you may have heard the sad story about Terry Schiavo several years ago. She was a lady in her mid 30’s who lived in Florida. She had been in a coma for several years kept alive by a feeding tube. Her husband wanted to remove the tube and allow her to die. He said that she had told him that she did not want to live on feeding tubes and life support machines. However, her parents did not want to end her life and turn her off the machines.

The families went to court over the issue and it caused a great deal of heartache and expense. It was a nasty, long fought battle pitting her parents against her husband since her actual wishes had not been put into writing. An Advanced Directive for healthcare in Alabama is designed to prevent that very problem. An Advanced Directive for Healthcare has two parts and is an essential part of any Alabama Elder Law and Estate Plan.

To get more information, I encourage you to register for one of our free Estate Planning Workshops OR call us at 256-792-3193 where we discuss this in more detail.

The first part of the advanced directive is a living will. In that living will you will specify when you do or do not want to be on life support, whether you do want to be on a feeding tube, whether you want to be on a respirator, etc.

Obviously all these questions only come into play if you are in the hospital and become incapacitated or incompetent and you can no longer live by natural means. You decide ahead of time if you want to be on these machines and for how long. If you do not have a living will, then no one will know your wishes if something happens to you.

The second part of an advanced directive is a healthcare proxy, or healthcare power of attorney. The is where you name a trusted loved one to make decisions about end of life issues if you are not able to do so like being on a feeding tube or breathing machine and so forth.

When drafting your Alabama health care proxy, you can decide how much power to give that person. Making these decisions is part of the estate planning process. The health care power of attorney is essentially a “God power” so it is important to get the right person. A lot of things can happen that are not necessarily covered in the living will and by having this healthcare proxy who you have discussed all this with ahead of time they can make the decision about these issues and not rely solely on the hospital or the doctors.

While you can have only a living will or only a health care proxy, it is best to have both so that they can work together to insure that your wishes are carried out in a time of crisis. An Alabama Elder Law or Estate Planning Attorney can help you draw up an advanced directive for healthcare that meets your goals and will carry out wishes.

To learn more, register for one of our Estate Planning Workshops or, if you prefer, you can order one of our free estate planning books at www.AlabamaEstatePlanningGuide.com or call us at 256-792-3193.

If you are admitted into a hospital in Alabama they will ask you if you have an advanced directive or living will. If you do not already have an advanced directive or living will, the hospital will usually have you sign a living will that their attorneys have drafted. The problem is that living will is very generic; it is the same one everyone signs and it is designed to protect the hospital. It is not designed to carry out your wishes.

I think most people would prefer that their loved ones make the choices, not the hospitals or the doctors. By having an Advanced Directive as part of your estate plan in Alabama, you can assure that your wishes are carried out at the end of life. Talk to an attorney who handles Elder Law or Estate Planning today to get your Advanced Directive in place.

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Address: 22 E. 12th St
Anniston, AL 36201

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