Do I actually need an Advance Care Directive?
If you don’t have an Advance Care Directive (ACD) and something happens to you, will your loved ones know what decisions to make on your behalf, right?
Have you spoken with them about the types of things you definitely don’t want, or perhaps the things you would really like to happen if you became incapacitated and couldn’t communicate with them?
Have you thought about whether you want to be resuscitated or would you let nature take its course? What if you are religious but your family aren’t; will they respect your beliefs when making decisions on your behalf? Are there family members you don’t want making decisions for you?
Have you also thought about what would happen if family members are in conflict between themselves in their decisions about your care? Who would you want to make those important decisions and who would make the final decision if they don’t all agree?
Is an Advance Care Directive really that important?
Having an ACD is very important. It is all about you and your wishes. An ACD gives you a voice when you have lost the ability to communicate. This could happen because of an accident or your health deteriorates and this can occur at any age and at any stage of your life.
What if family views differ greatly to yours? What if they make choices you wouldn’t have made yourself?
If you have nothing in place to guide loved ones and you haven’t communicated your wishes, your family members may also be left feeling guilty that they have made the wrong decision; especially if their decision results in your death.
Mark and Simone, a young couple in their late 20’s decided to update their wills as they had just welcomed a new baby into their family.
When asked whether they wanted to do an Advance Care Directive they declined.
“We don’t need to do one of those. They are just for old people. We will worry about doing one when we are a lot older” was their response.
Unfortunately, six months after they updated their wills, Mark was involved in a serious car accident and suffered a catastrophic brain injury. He was lying in a comatose state in hospital where the doctors looked to Simone for the answers to their questions; questions she didn’t have the answers for, because she and Mark had never discussed it.
Should they do surgery even though they were not sure he would survive it? Would Mark want to be resuscitated if something happened during surgery? Would he want to be kept alive at all cost even if it was by a ventilator and tube fed?
If Mark survived the surgery, the doctors knew there was a great chance he could be permanently brain damaged. Would he want to live at home or be cared for at a disability facility?
Simone had no idea what Mark would want. They had never spoken about this because in their mind, they were too young to worry about it.
Had Mark and Simone discussed this ahead of time and included an ACD as part of their estate planning (at the same time they were already doing their wills), Simone would have known exactly what Mark would have wanted. Instead she had to guess what decisions to make and is now plagued with guilt as to whether she was doing the right thing for Mark or not.
Do I need an Advance Care Directive in an emergency?
In an emergency, doctors will start life-prolonging measures regardless of whether you have an Advance Care Directive or not. In the absence of an ACD however, they will hold discussions with family members regarding your treatment to assist their medical decisions.
At this point, having an ACD in place would be extremely beneficial because everyone would know exactly what you would want to happen. Without an Advance Care Directive, unless you have spoken to your family about your preferences, everyone will be guessing what you want. Under the pressure of an emergency, will your family still make the decisions you have discussed with them verbally, without the formal documentation?
Don’t risk it.
We encourage you to get in touch with today’s blog writer, Probate Clerk, Nikki Harder for more information.
You can complete an Advance Care Directive online with acdAssist
acdAssist is a guided question and answer process, that you can complete at your own speed and in your own words. It is designed to identify your wishes and needs to those who you choose to make decisions for your care when you are no longer able to make those decisions yourself. These are then included in an Advance Care Directive for you to sign.