What Are Advance Directives and Why Do I Need Them?

Advance directives are comprised of three legal documents: Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will.  

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document through which you may appoint agents to handle your finances in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.  This document allows your agents to conduct banking and other transactions on your behalf, and if drafted with expansive provisions, permits your agents to engage in asset protection planning in the event your condition is such that you require long term care and/or necessitates the need to apply for government benefits (i.e. Medicaid).  

The Health Care Proxy document permits you to appoint agents to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make or express your wishes yourself.  It also gives your health care agent the ability to speak with your medical providers and access your medical records.  

A Living Will allows you to express your wishes regarding end of life medical treatment and decision making to your health care agents and medical providers in the event you are in an incurable, terminal condition and cannot express your wishes yourself.  

We recommend every individual over the age of 18 have the above advance directives in place.  By having a valid and expansive Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will you designate and control who has the authority to make decisions for you in the event a situation arises where you may not be able to act for yourself.  

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