Jennifer C. Rydberg, Attorney at Law
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Don't make mistakes with health care directives

Estate planning is an important process for Kent area residents. It is also about more than protecting a family's assets. Healthcare directives are important in making sure a person's health care wishes are followed when they are not able to communicate. But there are mistakes that can be made when creating healthcare directives.

One mistake that can be made when working through healthcare directives is just completing a form without having the important conversation with loved ones and healthcare workers regarding the decisions that are being made. Healthcare directives should include more meaningful information, such as values and beliefs, what quality of life means, medical treatment guidelines and boundaries and needs for spiritual and emotional support. A person should include what healthcare they want to receive as well as what they don't want to receive. It is also important for a person to think through who they are appointing as their healthcare agent. The first choice of spouse or child may not be the best. A family meeting should also be held so that the person can share their wishes before they are unable to communicate. The completed healthcare directive should be kept in a safe place that is quickly and easily accessible in the event of an emergency. It should also be reevaluated every five years or so. Also, people of all ages should complete a healthcare directive. It's not just for older adults as anyone can suffer from a medical emergency where they are not able to make decisions about their healthcare.

Healthcare directives are extremely important for everyone to have completed. A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning can help their client create a meaningful healthcare directive that encompasses a person's healthcare wishes. These are very important documents for families to use during a medical crisis and can be comforting during an emotional time.

There are many different things that can be incorporated into a family's estate plan. The traditional wills and trusts are part of it, but healthcare wishes are also important.

Source:, "Overcome obstacles to effective healthcare directives," Anne Denny, July 21, 2015

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