National Healthcare Decisions Day – April 16
St. Simons Island attorney, Debbie Britt, focuses her practice on estate planning and elder law. We reached out to her for her expert input on the best way to plan ahead and put our healthcare decisions in writing. In these uncertain times of worldwide pandemic, these decisions are especially important.
Debbie says a vital document we all need is the Georgia Advanced Directive for Health Care. If you are over the age of 18, you need an advanced health care directive. This important document allows your appointment of a health care agent to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. This same document allows your expression of your health care treatment preferences when certain conditions are present. These preferences will guide your health care agent and medical providers when you are unable.
In Georgia, we have a statutory form advanced directive for health care. While other forms may be accepted, developing a customized directive substantially compliant with the statutory language provided by Official Code of Georgia Section 31-32-4 is recommended. It is best to seek professional (medical and legal) advice regarding this important legal document.
There are several reasons advanced health care directives are best part of a comprehensive estate plan:
- Healthcare decisions. Agents appointed under your durable financial power of attorney may not make healthcare decisions for you.
- Timing of effectiveness. Different legal documents are effective at different times. Wills apply upon your death. Revocable living trusts apply upon your death or incapacity, as defined in the document. A presently effective advanced health care directive ensures your designated agent can act for you as set forth in the directive.
- Guardianship nomination. Should you need to have a court appointed guardian, you may nominate a person you would like to serve in that role in your advanced directive.