An advanced health care directive is an essential part of estate planning. It allows you to set out how you would like medical professionals to treat you if an accident or illness leaves you unable to make your wishes clear at the time. You can change your advanced directives at any time, and they will only come into force if you are unable to speak for yourself.
There are two kinds of advanced directives in New Jersey
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Also known as a Proxy Directive. You name someone as your health care representative. Their role is to make choices on your behalf when you cannot. You can use them if you are permanently unable to make decisions due to an illness. Or if you are temporarily unable to make decisions due to an accident. The more information you give them beforehand, the better they can carry out their tasks according to your wishes.
- Living Will: Also called an Instruction Directive. You guide first responders and doctors on how to treat you if you cannot tell them yourself. You can include as much information as you wish. You might have religious beliefs that preclude certain types of life-sustaining treatment. Or maybe you dislike the thought of specific treatments and would prefer to die quietly without a fuss.
Once you get the legal forms drawn up, you should leave copies with your family, physician and the person you appoint as a proxy directive. Having a plan and letting people know about it makes it more likely you will receive the kind of care you wish, should you be unable to speak up for yourself.