A healthcare directive is a document that sets out your wishes for health care if you are ever too ill or injured to speak for yourself. Healthcare directives allow you to inform medical professionals and family members about what kind of care you want when you can’t communicate those wishes yourself. Your directive can include things such as where you want to receive care, instructions about artificial nutrition and hydration, whether you want to be an organ donor, and what your funeral arrangements should be.
When you make a healthcare directive, you name a trusted person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions on your behalf. The person you appoint is called your healthcare agent. Your healthcare agent will work with doctors and other health care providers to make sure you get the kind of medical care you wish to receive. When arranging your care, your agent is legally bound to follow your treatment preferences to the extent that he or she knows about them.
A healthcare directive is included in every one of our estate plans.