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An advance directive is a legal document that states a person’s wishes about receiving medical care if that person is no longer able to make medical decisions because of a serious illness or injury. Our blog offers more information on advance directives.

Why do I need an Advance Directive?
Depending on your circumstances, an advance directive may provide the ideal legal protection for you should you expect to incur certain health ailments. Here are some reasons why you might consider creating an advance directive:

• The clearest answer comes in the lack of clarity that medical situations can provide. Simply put, we don’t know what to expect in our lives to make accurate determinations about our health. An advance directive helps insulate from life-changing medical situations.

• Moreover, setting up an advance directive pushes you to confront the difficulties that many prefer to avoid until it’s too late. An advance directive requires you to think critically about your health and decisions that you’ll need to take in order to plan ahead. It’s important to communicate these decisions to your loved ones so they understand the proper and expected steps to take when and if the time comes.

• On the topic of your loved ones, an advance directive limits the burden they have to take when it comes to healthcare decision-making. It allows your doctors to understand your wishes and inform them about your care so that your family is not faced with trying to navigate the stormy waters of the medical field.

• Most of all, an advance directive gives you a voice in matters pertaining to your health when you’re incapable of providing that voice yourself. Sharing these values with your friends and family can ease transitions and allow you to live out your wishes to the best extent possible.

When does an ADHC become effective?
An ADHC becomes effective when the person who you name as agent may begin using it. It may become effective immediately upon your signature or it may become effective upon the occurrence of a later event (“a springing ADHC”).

You may choose the effective date. If you anticipate needing the assistance of the agent in the near future, you should choose an immediately effective ADHC.

May you appoint more than one agent?
You may authorize more than one person to act on your behalf. You may authorize your co-agents to act independently, or you may require that they act jointly. If agents are independent of one another, issues arise when one agent says do “X” and the other agent says do “Y”. If you appoint co-agents, then you should consider providing for arbitration if the co-agents do not agree on how to act.

How does the appointment of a guardian affect your ADHC?
One of the reasons that you should consider signing an ADHC is to avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian. However, in some cases, a guardian may still be appointed. If a guardianship is required, you may, within your ADHC, nominate the person whom you wish to serve as your guardian. This nomination is not absolutely binding on the court, but it will be followed by the court unless convincing evidence is presented that the appointment of your nominee would not be in your best interest. Even after the appointment of a guardian, your ADHC will continue in effect unless the court takes the affirmative step of revoking the ADHC.

Does the ADHC take away your rights?
An ADHC does not take away any of your rights. Only a court can take away your rights. Your agent simply has the power to act for you in accordance with the terms of your ADHC.