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advance directives

What are 3 Types of Advance Directives?

Knowing what type of advance directive you need can make end-of-life planning easier. Advance directives spell out what kind of medical care you want to receive if you become seriously injured and can’t express your wishes at the time of treatment. When legal documents exist to direct healthcare providers, it eliminates the stress of making those decisions from your family and friends. It also ensures you do not end up on life support or with other intrusive medical interventions you do not desire. Advance directives can include instructions for medical care like dialysis and breathing machines, tube feeding, and organ or tissue donation.

An advance directive lawyer in Albuquerque can assure your end-of-life wishes are met by drafting the appropriate legal documentation for your situation. Advance directives fall into three categories in New Mexico. Determining which one you need is the first step toward drafting a legally binding order.

What is an advance directive?

An advanced directive spells out your medical preferences and designates a healthcare agent to ensure your wishes are followed. New Mexico Statute dictates how advance directives must be created and used within the state under Chapter 24, Article 7A (Uniform Health Care Decisions). Writing an advance directive is tricky business, which is why you should consult with an advance directive attorney. Ensuring the legal requirements are met for drafting the document increases your chances of having your end-of-life wishes respected. Working with an attorney familiar with the Uniform Health Care Decision law in New Mexico also guarantees you choose the right kind of advance directive for your needs.

Living Wills

Living wills are a popular form of advance directive. If you have concerns about the kinds of medical interventions and treatments you may receive if you become incapacitated, a living will can clarify your wishes. Directives outlined in a living will can be general or specific. Let’s use the example of a person who suffers brain trauma during an accident that causes a coma. The person is young and was in good health before the accident. However, the doctors have said it is unlikely the person will regain consciousness and offer life support as an option. If this is not something you would want for yourself at any time or under any circumstances if your chances of recovery were nonexistent, then you can have a general order in your living will that declines all life-sustaining interventions.  A catch-all phrase many people use in their generalized living wills reads: “If I suffer from an incurable or irreversible condition that is determined to be fatal by my healthcare provider, I direct that life-sustaining measure be withheld or discontinued.”

Now let’s take an example of a person living with stage 4 brain cancer who has exhausted all medical treatments. They’ve entered hospice care, where they’ve determined they do not want to be tube-fed once they are unable to feed themselves anymore. They can have a very specific advance directive that says no to certain interventions like feeding tubes while allowing others such as pain medication to make them more comfortable at end-of-life.

Planning your advance directive with an attorney experienced in New Mexico Statutes can help ensure your document is well-drafted.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a type of advance directive that appoints a surrogate decisionmaker to carry out your wishes temporarily. The person you appoint to this role has agreed to follow your instructions for medical treatment and other care if you become incapacitated. Make sure you appoint someone to this role who is trustworthy because they can access your financial and medical records to carry out tasks on your behalf.

When choosing a durable power of attorney, you can specify what kind of control the designee has over your affairs. Some people only wish to have someone else handle their healthcare decisions if they are debilitated. Others may want someone to take care of their health, financial, and personal care needs. Discuss your priorities with your advance directive lawyer before drafting the agreement.  

You don’t have to worry about struggling to regain control of your finances and other important decisions once you can speak for yourself again. A durable power of attorney only lasts while you can’t care for yourself.

Health Care Proxy

A health care proxy is a legal document that appoints someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. The role is like a durable power of attorney, with one exception. A health care proxy only controls how you receive medical treatment and intervention if you are unable to speak for yourself. A health care proxy has no authority over your finances. Some of the responsibilities of a health care proxy can include:

  • Priority to visit you in the hospital and speak with your medical care team.
  • Receipt of your personal belongings recovered by emergency services personnel or medical staff at the hospital at the time of your incapacitation.
  • Authority to authorize or deny medical treatment and surgical procedures on your behalf.

Health care proxies usually refer to a living will when making decisions on your behalf. Creating both a living will and establishing a health care proxy can make the entire process easier should you become unable to speak for yourself about the care you receive.

Consult with the experts

The internet is awash with helpful guides on how to create your own advance directives. However, those one-size-fits-all templates should never replace an advance directive drafted by an attorney experienced in the Uniform Health Care Decisions statute in New Mexico. Cover all your bases by relying on the legal experts in advance directives. Call us at 505-944-1050 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

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