Advance Directives Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee

Most people probably think of estate planning as creating a last will and testament to designate who gets what when you pass on. While a will is certainly the primary building block, or starting point, of estate planning, the process also should involve planning for unexpected events that could occur in your life, such as an incapacitating illness or injury. 

What used to be known as a living will and a medical power of attorney allowed individuals to express their medical preferences should they be unable to do so because of incapacitation and to designate an agent to voice their choices for them. In 2017, Tennessee combined both forms into what is called the Advance Directive for Health Care, which has been adopted by the Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities. 

While the older forms will still be honored, the Tennessee Department of Health notes that: “The Advance Directive for Health Care is a more flexible document and allows you to name someone to make decisions for you and provides directives for care if your quality of life becomes unacceptable."

In popular parlance, a living will or the new Advance Directive for Health Care are often referred to as “do not resuscitate” orders. While you can certainly choose that option under Tennessee’s Right to Natural Death Act, you can also choose other options to continue your care.

After the pandemic of the past few years, people should be more aware that health challenges can arise out of the blue, and suddenly, you find yourself unconscious in a hospital. Who is going to voice your decisions for you? A spouse, partner, or family member? And if so, what choices should they make?

By creating an Advance Directive for Health Care, you can not only dictate those choices but also name an agent authorized to voice them for you and to make other decisions that may arise that were not anticipated.

For all your estate planning needs in or around Nashville, Tennessee, including the creation of an Advance Directive for Health Care, contact Brazil Clark, PLLC. The firm’s estate planning attorneys will help you review all the choices you need to make for the safety, well-being, and comfort of you and your loved ones going forward. An Advance Directive for Health Care is certainly an important component of estate planning for everyone.  

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What Is an Advance Directive for Health Care? 

An Advance Directive for Health Care has two major components, combining what used to be called a living will and a medical power of attorney. The living will component allows you to indicate your preferences for medical treatment should you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.  

The medical power of attorney component grants someone you name the power to voice those decisions for you. The Advance Directive for Health Care thus relieves your family and loved ones from making tough decisions.

What are the choices you can dictate in your Advance Health Care Directive? As mentioned earlier, there is the overall option of “do not resuscitate,” but there are other choices involved in that decision or to be made separately. You can be very specific or more general. The choice is up to you.

You can leave your agent your directions regarding life-prolonging intervention, particularly medically-administered food and water (tube feedings), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the use of machines to help you breathe, and organ and tissue donation. Some persons even write out their feelings and medical choices in a personal letter to their named agent to further express their personal values and wishes. 

Who Can Create an Advance Directive for Health Care and How? 

Any adult, including an emancipated minor, can create an Advance Directive for Health Care. There is a form available to do so, but it is strongly advised to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure your document expresses what you truly feel. 

The document must be signed by you and either notarized or witnessed by two others. Neither of the witnesses can be in line to inherit anything from you, and one cannot be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption. 

Choosing Your Agent 

You will need to name someone to be your agent to voice your decisions. You probably should also name a successor or alternative agent should your first choice be unable to carry out the task. Choosing the agent or agents is a monumental decision.  

While many people will pick a spouse, partner, or family member, the agent can also be a trusted friend or associate. Make sure the agent you choose shares your values and understands your wishes fully. 

What to Do With the Document 

Your agent and successor agent must be given copies of your Advance Directive for Health Care. Your family should also get a copy, as well as your physician. You also need to retain a copy in a secure, accessible location. It is not advised to store it in a safe deposit box since access will be limited. Your best choice is to create the directive with an attorney, who can retain a copy for you and yours. 

Advance Directive Attorneys Serving Nashville, Tennessee

In or around Nashville and throughout Rutherford County, reach out to the estate planning attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC to create all the legal instruments needed to protect you and your loved ones going forward. Planning for the future is an important task, and with the guidance of experienced attorneys, you can be sure to cover all the bases, including an Advance Directive for Health Care.