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Thomas M. Geier, CPA, CFP®, PFS

advance medical directiveAnyone who has visited a doctor’s office recently has probably come across the term “advance medical directives”. This is somewhat of an umbrella term that includes documents such as living wills, organ donation instructions, and powers of attorney. These directives are very important to both you and your health care provider because they answer questions concerning treatment in the event of incapacity or terminal illness.

Living Will vs. Last Will and Testament

Many people may be confused when asked about these directives. For example, while most people understand what a will is, they do not know how a living will is different. Whereas a Last Will and Testament gives instructions as to your wishes for distribution of your estate and property after your death, a living will conveys instructions while you are still alive, but are unable to express your wishes. Requirements for a living will vary from state to state, so it is important to consult with your attorney. Most people prepare their living will in conjunction with the preparation of their Last Will and Testament.

A durable power of attorney for health care differs from a living will in that a specific person is designated by you to make decisions on your behalf regarding your health care. Some examples are allowing someone else access to medical records, giving them authority to remove a physician, or even engage in other treatment. Because living wills do not always cover possible circumstances that may arise, a power of attorney enables someone to give clear directives and overcomes the need of a guardianship.

What Is a Medical Directive?

Medical directives give instructions in case of termination of life support under certain circumstances. For instance, a coma and irreversible brain damage may leave someone in a state of subsisting on life support equipment. In addition, they give instructions regarding organ donation in the case of death. These directives detail your wishes should such a condition happen to you so that your loved ones know exactly how to proceed.

Such documents are unpleasant to talk about, and hopefully will never need to be employed. However, they are a very necessary part of a proper estate plan. At Geier Asset Management, as part of our financial planning services, we can discuss the details of your Advance Medical Directives so that you are prepared for your visit with your attorney.

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Please feel free to call Geier Asset Management if you have any questions about Advance Medical Directives. We can help you analyze the pros and cons as they relate to your specific circumstances.


© Geier Asset Management, Inc. August 2016. Thomas M. Geier is a Vice President of Geier Asset Management, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. The above blog reflects the opinions of Mr. Geier and not necessarily the firm. Any advice given is general in nature and investors must consider their own individual circumstances. Past performance is no indicator of future performance. The firm makes no warranties or representations of any kind relating to the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.