Although asset distribution is the most commonly discussed aspect of the estate planning process, medical directives play an important role as well. Your estate planning attorney can work with you to create an advance health care directive that makes sure your wishes will be respected if you need emergency medical treatment.
Issues Covered in an Advance Directive
The Georgia Legislature adopted the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act in 2007. This law combined the former Georgia Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care forms into one document. It created a new form that is easy to follow and written in plain English. However, any Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care prepared before June 30, 2007, remains valid until it is revoked.
Under Georgia Law, the Advance Directive for Health Care lets you:
- Name someone to act as your health care agent. Also known as a power of attorney for health care, this gives someone the ability to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. You will also be asked to choose an alternate person to step in if your first choice is unavailable.
- Specify end-of-life wishes. This includes whether an autopsy should be performed, if you want to be an organ donor, and your wishes regarding the final disposition of your body.
- Outline your treatment preferences. The form specifically asks for your wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding/IV fluids, mechanical ventilation, and pain medication or palliative care. There is also a space for adding requests regarding additional issues such as blood transfusion, dialysis, or amputation.
- Choose a guardian. In this section, you can list who you would like to serve as your guardian if the court determines that this is a necessary measure. This can be the person listed as your health care agent or a different individual, depending on your wishes.
The form must be signed by two witnesses. The witnesses cannot be the individuals named as health care agents or guardians, nor can they be people who stand to inherit any of your assets. Only one witness can be an employee of a medical facility.
Let Our Georgia Estate Planning Attorneys Help You Make Your Wishes Known
The Ward Law Firm helps clients create estate plans that protect their assets and plan for the possibility of incapacity due to illness or injury. Please use our online contact form to request a consultation with experienced estate planning attorney David J. Ward. Our office serves clients in Gwinnett County and throughout the state of Georgia.