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Advanced directives and their purpose in estate planning

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023 | Estate Planning

Advance directives in Missouri are legal documents that allow individuals to plan for their medical care if they cannot make decisions for themselves. These documents can include a living will, a do not resuscitate (DNR) order and a durable power of attorney for healthcare.

Living will

A living will specifies the individual’s wishes for end-of-life medical treatment, such as whether they want to be on a ventilator or receive artificial nutrition and hydration. It also allows individuals to indicate their preferences for pain management and other treatments.

Durable power of attorney

A durable power of attorney for healthcare (DPOA-HC) is a document that allows individuals to appoint a person they trust to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. This person is known as the healthcare agent or proxy. Individuals should sign the DPOA-HC while they are still of sound mind.

DNR orders

A do not resuscitate (DNR) order is a medical order that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event that the individual’s heart stops or they stop breathing. Hopefully, someone has indicated in their will or to their healthcare agent that this is what they wish if they are in a hopeless situation. A doctor usually writes DNR orders on behalf of individuals with terminal illnesses or poor prognoses. Estate planners don’t recommend that an individual sign a DNR request while they are healthy because this might prevent them from receiving needed medical care.

Planning medical care

Advance directives are an essential part of estate planning because they allow individuals to make their medical wishes known and ensure that those wishes are carried out. It is also important for individuals to discuss their advance directives with their healthcare agent or proxy and their healthcare provider. Additionally, it is vital for individuals to review their advance directives regularly and update them as necessary.

Plan for the future while you still can. You want to ensure that someone you trust is making the decisions when you can’t.