The Importance of Advance Care Directives During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Brittney R. Mulvaney

Every year millions of Americans become incapacitated due to an illness, injury, or as a part of the aging process. If you or a loved one is ever incapacitated, who will make medical treatment decisions? Who has the authority to decide what care you will receive?

An advance care directive is a document that expresses your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event you are unable to make medical decisions yourself. It’s important to have a plan in place to address incapacity before it happens. While an advance care directive should be part of all estate plans, whether or not there is a global pandemic, with COVID-19 cases expected to hit their peak soon, thoughts of medical care and treatment are now at the front of everyone’s mind.Healthcare workers on the frontlines are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. Individuals with compromised immune systems and certain pre-existing conditions are more likely to suffer complications from COVID-19. These more vulnerable segments of the population should seriously consider putting an advance care directive in place.

The advance care directive serves two purposes. First, it names an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself – commonly referred to as a healthcare power of attorney agent. Second, the advance care directive allows you to define your quality of life and choose treatment options in the event your quality of life becomes unacceptable to you – commonly known as the living will. For example, if living in a permanent unconscious condition is unacceptable to you, you would then be able to choose what medical treatment you would want if you were in this condition.

When naming an agent on your advance care directive, it is important to pick someone with whom you’re comfortable having an open discussion about end of life care. Generally, clients choose a spouse, family member, or close friend. Making decisions about quality of life and treatment options in advance allows you to provide your agent with guidance on what decision you would have made for yourself had you been able. If there is no plan in place in the event you become incapacitated, not only will you lack the capacity to make decisions, your already grieving family will have to make difficult choices regarding your future care such as removing life support and trying to figure out what kind of medical treatment you would have wanted. The best gift you can give your family is the peace of mind that they are making the right decisions about your care because you have let them know how to handle your affairs when you are unable to do so yourself.

At Lodestone Legal Group, we include an advance care directive in every Trust or Will Package we create for our clients. We can also individually create an advance care directive for those who have an estate plan in place but need to update their advance care directive. If you are interested in learning more about advance care directives or other estate planning documents please contact us at 615-807-1240. We look forward to working with you!

Post Authored by Brittney R. Mulvaney