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What happens if you do not have an advance directive?

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2023 | Advance directives, Estate Planning

In life, you can prepare for unavoidable situations like death. But life is also full of unexpected events, such as accidents, sudden disabilities and illnesses. Unlike what some may think, it is also possible for you to prepare for the unexpected. With advance directives, you can maintain your voice in decision-making if you fall under any extreme medical situation.

Knowing the impacts of not having an advance directive can help you decide whether it may be time to add one or two to your or your parents’ estate plan.

Conflict among family members

Most extreme medical situations prevent the patient from expressing their choices, whether because they fell into a coma, are terminally ill or simply unable to speak. In these situations, doctors usually refer to patients’ advance directives. Without these documents, a doctor will confer with the patient’s family for medical decisions. Sometimes, family members cannot agree on one decision, creating conflict. This can also prompt blames in case something happens to the patient because of a member’s decision.

With an advance directive like a health care proxy, you can prevent conflict among your family members because you have already authorized one trusted person to make medical decisions for you.

Medical decisions against your wishes or moral beliefs

Each person has a different view of life. Some believe that everyone deserves a second chance at life, while others believe in letting life take its natural course, the end of which is death. Without an advance directive, your family and doctors have no way of knowing what you have wanted. They may choose a course of action that does not align with your wishes and moral beliefs.

Advance directives like living wills, do not resuscitate orders (DNR) and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) can ensure that your preferences will take priority.

Including advance directives in your estate planning helps you accomplish many things. It benefits not only you, but also your family and medical professionals responsible for your care.