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Healthcare Directives

It can be difficult to think ahead to your end of life plans, but the reality of the situation means that planning ahead of time puts you in a better position to receive the care you want. Your end-of-life care and medical preferences should be seriously considered when you're thinking about your wishes later on.

Healthcare directives are one way to ensure that, in the case of your incapacitation, your wishes are honored and you receive the care that you need. Learn about health care directives and the different types of directives that you can use to your advantage.

What are Healthcare Directives?

Healthcare directives are legal documents that allow a person to specify the type of care they want to receive when they can no longer vocalize their wishes. These types of documents are used to instruct medical professionals, families, and friends about the medical care you prefer to receive, and who you'd like to make decisions for you.

Including a healthcare directive in your estate plan is essential to eliminate any confusion around your wishes. There are a few different types of health care directives, each with a different purpose. Understanding the differences can be helpful when speaking with your estate planning lawyer to decide what's best for you.

Living Will

Living wills are documents that allow you to state what kind of treatment you prefer to receive if you are too injured or ill to say so yourself. It has no relation to a conventional will or a living trust but instead outlines your medical care wishes while you are still alive. This document is also where you can tell medical professionals if they should or should not “pull the plug.”

Power of Attorney for Health Care

Also known as a medical power of attorney, this document allows you to appoint someone you trust (an agent) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. You typically have to be deemed “incapacitated” by at least two physicians before your agent can step in.

You can give your agent the ability to oversee the preferences you've outlined in your health care declaration and make additional decisions regarding your health care matters. It may be possible to combine your declaration with your power of attorney into a single form, often called an advanced health care directive.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders

DNR orders inform medical professionals and emergency personnel that you do not want to receive CPR. DNR orders usually supplement other health care directives and are put into place by those who are critically ill and do not wish to receive life-saving care.

You can add a DNR order to your medical record while you're in the hospital, or create a prehospital DNR order to alert emergency personnel of your wishes when they visit you at your home or care facility.

Though health care directives may seem like a grim subject to tackle, they are necessary to consider before it's too late. Time is of the essence, so don't delay. Contact an estate planning attorney to start your plan and prepare for the future.


Brad Sarkauskas from Heritage Law Office is eager to guide you through the complexities of estate management and answer any questions you may have. Our clients' well-being is at the core of our practice, and we work to ensure that you and your family are taken care of. Contact the office today at (414) 253-8500 for a free case evaluation.  

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For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. We proudly provide legal advice to those in Milwaukee and surrounding communities.

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