Advanced Directives

by Alex Johnson September 18, 2019 2 min read

Death doesn’t always have to be something unpredictable. It seems every time someone passes away, it comes as huge shock and often, no preparations are ready at the time of death. But why is this so? Why is it so readily accepted that death always be an unexpected occurrence? Why does death, and all that comes afterwards, mean families are scrambling around trying to arrange a funeral or memorial while shoving their grief down to get everything done? Honestly, it doesn’t have to be this way.


Instead, families need to start opening a dialogue where arrangements are discussed when not upset. It actually wouldn’t be a bad idea for families to gather their loved ones and have a proper meeting where they discuss what they want done with their final disposition, assets and holdings, etc.


With that said, death is still very much a touchy subject, so the hesitation definitely makes sense. However, we cannot allow the fear to sink in and distract from the logic behind being well prepared.


What Are Advanced Directives?

Advanced directives are legal documents that allow the chance to make clear headed decisions on burial/cremations, power of attorney, and other end of life choices. It’s a living document in which decisions are made for end of life care. It’s mainly meant for times when a person is unable to express these choices or make them at all- due to being incapacitated; mentally or physically.


An advanced directive consists of two documents: a living will and a medical (healthcare) power of attorney. A living will describes your wishes regarding medical care such as a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, medication allergies, or whether medically induced comas are an option. While families do their best to make choices they think is best for the situation, it’s a huge relief to them when they’re made already. On the other hand, with a medical power of attorney, a person is appointed to make healthcare decisions in case someone is unable to do so, or they simply don’t want to.


Advanced Directives do vary by state however, each state government has their own version of the advanced directive form. Sometimes the form also include extra documents such as Declaration for Mental Health Treatment, DNR form, etc. In some states, these forms just need the signature of the person filling it, along with that of a witness. Other times, a notary is required- again, this varies by state. 


While it may seem overwhelming, a little research goes a long way and most people find the process of filling out an advanced directive relatively straight forward. To get a better understanding on state requirements, forms can be downloaded according to state, here.


It’s not unusual for people to shy away from death talk. Many find it frightening or bad luck to discuss death before one has even occurred. However, it’s time to move away from that negative rhetoric in order to be well prepared in any case the worst should happen. Death is inevitable for everyone; human or animal, and we need to grow accustomed to the idea.

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