When a loved one needs to make a difficult decision…
An advance medical directive is a legally binding document stating the author’s desires regarding end-of-life medical decisions. Most often, an advance medical directive advises potential healthcare providers what the author would prefer in the event that they are determined to be terminal.
In a combined advance medical directive/healthcare power of attorney, this document also nominates a person to serve as the author’s designated lawful agent to make important healthcare-related decisions in the event that the author is incapacitated. Much like a power of attorney, this decision should not be made lightly. The nominated agent will conceivably be making important decisions including if and when to terminate such artificially-prolonging medical devices as breathing or feeding machines.
Nominating someone well in advance of any such potential situation avoids prolonged conflict (and even potential litigation) among loved ones in what may already be a very emotionally trying time.