None of us are going to live forever, and many of us won’t even make it through this life with all of our faculties intact. Though it is not pleasant to consider, that is simply a fact of life. Incapacitating injuries and illnesses can affect any of us at any time, rendering us incapable of managing our own affairs. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take a sudden tragedy to leave us incapacitated. In many cases, the harsh rigors of the aging process slowly diminish our capacity over time. If that happens to you, it is important to have the right incapacity plan in place to ensure that your needs are properly managed. That’s why you need a health care directive in Georgia to provide that peace of mind for you and your family.
Why is This Even a Concern?
For a large portion of the population, none of this seems to matter. After all, many people never bother to make any sort of advanced planning of any kind – no estate plan, no incapacity plan, and no retirement plan. Everything is just left to chance and the hope that maybe everything will somehow work out right. In reality, things seldom go that smoothly.
The reason why you should be concerned about ensuring that you have an incapacity plan in place is simple: at some point in your life, you could be rendered incapable of even simply decision-making. A car accident could leave you in a coma or suffering from traumatic brain injury. An unexpected illness could accomplish much the same effect. Or you could simply lose your mental capacity little by little as the years roll on, eventually reaching a point where you struggle to even understand what the doctors are telling you and find it all but impossible to make a sound decision.
What happens then? If you are found to be incapacitated, who will make your decisions for you? If you think that your loved ones will be able to just step in and start making those decisions on your behalf, think again. What will actually happen is that your incapacity will be brought before the court so that a judge can appoint a guardian to make those decisions for you – a guardian who will be paid with assets from your estate. That guardian will then be empowered to make healthcare and treatment decisions on your behalf, with the approval of the court.
If you’re fortunate, the appointed guardian will be someone with whom you share close ties and affections. He or she may even be competent to fulfill that role. On the other hand, if you have no spouse, then the judge will decide which of your family members serve as guardian – or he may even select a professional guardian. In any event, you will have had no say in the matter.
You Have Rights
You probably already understand that you have a right to determine the types of care that you want and the treatment you are willing to accept. That means that you can insist that you receive certain kinds of care, or refuse to be treated with certain therapies. You also, however, have the right to select a trusted individual to make those decisions for you in the event that you cannot. You even have the right to leave explicit instructions about your care preferences to ensure that your chosen representative knows your wishes.
All of these things are covered under the provisions of the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act. That law recognizes the authority of a legal document known as the advance directive for healthcare (ADHC), which replaced the healthcare power of attorney and living will for Georgia residents back in 2007. Using this directive, you can accomplish a number of important goals:
- Like the old durable power of attorney for healthcare, the ADHC enables you to appoint a healthcare agent to act on your behalf if you are somehow incapacitated.
- The document enables you to specify the types of life-sustaining care you are willing to accept.
- It allows you to state whether you want to be fed and hydrated if you are in a terminal state or rendered permanently comatose. You should specify that your instructions are binding, however, or your agent will simply have to take those expressed wishes under advisement.
- Your ADHC provides a method for you to detail specific care preferences, or you can simply rely on your agent to understand your wishes.
- When presented with your ADHC, your healthcare provider is required to either comply with your wishes as expressed in the document or by your agent, or must permit your transfer to the care of a doctor who will.
It is important to understand that marriage can impact your selection of an agent. For example, if you select an agent and subsequently get married, your previous choice is negated in favor of your new spouse. You have to ensure that specific provisions are included in the ADHC to prevent that revocation from occurring.
What Does It All Mean?
Obviously, issues like this can be complex for people who are otherwise busy trying to earn a living, enjoy their families, and build a life. Still, you owe it to your family to ensure that you have taken every precaution possible to prevent them from enduring any more emotional anguish than necessary should the worst occur. And though these are not issues that anyone likes to ponder, it is important to plan ahead to protect both your own interests and those of your loved ones.
At Fouts Law Group, LLC, we understand just how difficult this type of advance planning can be for our clients and their families. That is why we are fully committed to ensuring that the incapacity planning process is as simple and stress-free as possible so that you can provide yourself and your loved ones with the protection you deserve. To find out more about how a health care directive in Georgia can benefit you, contact us at our website or give us a call at (678) 242-8344 now.
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