September 30, 2020

Advance Health Care Directives: The Importance of Making Hard Decisions

Making decisions in your Advance Health Care Directive can be emotionally challenging. Here’s why you should do it anyway.

It is not uncommon for clients to feel uncomfortable discussing Advance Health Care Directives. One major reason for creating an Advance Health Care Directive is to tell your family and doctors when you would like to die naturally. To use more common (yet indelicate) phrasing: When do you want to “pull the plug?”

As a result of the, very understandable, discomfort with this topic–some clients request such decisions be deferred to their Health Care Attorney-in-Fact (as designated in their Health Care Power of Attorney document).

However, in my experience, deferring to one’s Health Care Attorney-in-Fact can have negative consequences. Your Health Care Attorney-in-Fact is frequently a close family member or friend. No one wants to let go of a loved one. For your Health Care Attorney-in-Fact and other loved ones, letting go will be a deeply challenging experience. This grief will likely be compounded and complicated if your preferences are not clearly expressed.

I believe clarity in end-of-life decisions is crucial to a well composed Advance Health Care Directive. Discussing these topics is challenging. Nevertheless, doing so often leads to a more compassionate result for your loved ones.


This article represents the opinion of the author and is intended for educational purposes. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. One should always consult with an experienced attorney before making estate planning decisions.

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