Advance directives: an important part of estate planning, P.2

In our previous post, we began discussing the importance of including an advance directive in the estate planning process. Doing so is lets health care providers and family know of one's medical wishes in the event that one is incapacitated and unable to communicate those wishes.

According to the Georgia Department of Human Services, the Advance Directive for Healthcare replaced the Georgia laws on the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare back in 2007. The Advance Directive for Healthcare form combines characteristics of both the living will and the durable power of attorney for healthcare. Durable powers of attorney and living wills established prior to 2007 are legally binding until revoked.

Georgia's advance directive form provides a number of options covering various medical scenarios, and asks the individual to specify their preferences. The document will not only ask which specific types of decisions the patient does not want made, as well as decisions the patient does want made. It also allows one to appoint a health care agent to make medical decisions in the event of incapacitation. The advance directive form can be obtained through many health care providers, or right off Google.

The patient's signature, along with the signature of two witnesses, is required to complete the form. Once the form is completed, it is recommended that a copy is kept for the patient's records, as well as a copy for one's doctor and health care agent. The specific wishes expressed in the document can be revoked at any time.

Filling out an advance directive form is not complex. The prime obstacle is convincing individuals of the importance of specifying their medical wishes, and getting them to have the conversation with family.

Source: Marietta Daily Journal, "Advance directives gaining recognition," Laura Braddick, 26 June 2011.

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