Suffering an accident and not being able to care for one’s self may be a nightmare for St. Louis residents who enjoy the autonomy of living on their own and making their own decisions. However, when incapacitating and life-threatening illnesses and injuries occur, individuals may not be able to communicate their healthcare wishes to the doctors and providers who are tasked with treating them. The inability of a person to direct their own medical decision may cause them to undergo treatments or procedures that they would not otherwise have consented to.

To avoid this difficult situation some Missouri residents elect to draft and execute health care directives. Also called health care proxies, advance directives and other terms, health care directives name other individuals as the responsible decision-making parties when the directives’ creators become incapacitated. For example, a wife may name her husband as the decision-making party when it comes to her medical care in the event that she cannot make decisions for herself.

In a health care directive a person may discuss what, if any, lifesaving treatments they are willing to undergo in order to save or prolong their life. Not all individuals want drastic measure to be taken to attempt to keep them alive; a health care directive provides instructions on these and other matters and grants authority to a trusted individual to ensure those instructions are followed.

No one wants to think about the scenarios that may give need to a health care directive but no person should be left wondering what will happen to them if they cannot manage their own medical decisions. A health care directive is an important part of any estate plan and should be discussed with readers’ estate planning attorneys.