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Why Do You Need Advance Care Planning?

Advance care planning involves making decisions about the kind of healthcare and treatment you want to receive if you face a medical crisis in the future or become too sick to talk to the doctor yourself. These decisions are totally up to you and are usually made based on your values and your health preferences, and may also take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of your loved ones.

If you are diagnosed with a terminal or life-limiting illness, you may be incapable of making decisions regarding your care, which is why advance care planning is so essential. It means that, no matter what happens to you in the future, you can decide the type of treatment that’s right for you, and give your loved ones peace of mind knowing that they are doing what is right for your health. You can talk to your doctor to learn more about what illnesses you may face in the future, and what treatment options may be right should the situation arise.


What Does Advance Care Planning Do?

Advance care planning means making a specific, written plan that details the types of medical treatment that you would or would not want if you were to face a medical crisis. This also puts into writing who is allowed to make further decisions about your healthcare if they are needed, also known as giving someone medical power of attorney. In the event that you become incapacitated without an advance care plan, your care will usually be placed into the hands of a family member, which can be a problem if you and your partner aren’t married, or you’re estranged from members of your family who may be chosen as a decision-maker.

The first element of an advance care plan is a living will. A living will is a document that describes to doctors and healthcare providers how you want to be treated if you are dying or in a vegetative state and are unable to make your own decisions about emergency treatment and what, if any, actions should be taken to save your life. The second element is a durable power of attorney for health care, which is a legal document that names a healthcare proxy. This is someone who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

Advance care planning protects you from receiving care that goes against your preferences or values. Think about the person who you trust the most, and who knows and values your opinions and thoughts about healthcare. This can be a partner, a parent, a sibling, a child, or other close relative or friend. Keep in mind that, as your health changes, or if your relationships change, you can always adjust your care plan too.


When Is Advance Care Planning Needed?

No one ever plans on becoming ill or disabled, so it’s never a bad time to set advance care planning into motion with an attorney. However, advance care planning can be particularly important if you have a degenerative illness or a chronic condition that may worsen over time. It can also be useful if you know you’re genetically predisposed to an illness like cancer or strokes.

The decisions that a person has to make regarding future medical treatment and end-of-life care are some of the most important and difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make. Once you’ve talked to your doctor and loved ones about the right course of action for your health, a lawyer can help make your advance care plan official.


How Does Advance Care Planning Protect You And Your Loved Ones?

With an advance care plan in place, you and your chosen loved ones can be prepared if the unthinkable happens. If your biological family has a history of being unaccepting of your sexual orientation or your same-sex partner, you can be assured that they won’t be able to make unwanted decisions about what kind of care you will receive, and those sensitive decisions will lie with you and your partner or chosen proxy.


What Happens If You Don’t Make An Advance Care Plan?

Medical emergencies can happen at any time and are often unexpected. When you don’t plan for the care you may need in the future, your family and loved ones can find themselves in a tight spot. If you are incapacitated and cannot decide on your medical care, they will have to make that tough decision alone. Also, if you didn’t choose a healthcare proxy, the state may decide who can make your health decisions. This burden may fall onto someone who isn’t prepared or is unable to make the best decision for you.

It’s important to speak with a lawyer who is well-versed in creating advance care plans for members of the LGBTQ community so you can make sure you’re making the best decisions for your future.

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