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Medical Decisions Included in Legal Documents

| Jun 29, 2018 | Estate Planning |

Few of us like to consider our own mortality, much less discuss medical wishes. Often we feel uncomfortable, trepidatious, or uncertain, and all of that is OK. In fact, it’s normal. But when preparing legal documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health proxies, these are items that need to be discussed and decided upon.

In a will, you can state a number of decisions. If you wish to allow organ donation, specific language can be included to allow doctors to donate organs as applicable after your death. If you agree to allow the donation of your remains to science, that is explicitly stated, and cremation is automatically listed in those cases. When considering donating your remains to research or science, it’s highly recommended you speak to a donation program in your area to get specific details and be able to ask any questions you may have. In Maryland, the Maryland Anatomy Board is one such organization. These are difficult decisions, and you should ask as many questions as you wish to make the best decision for you.

If you have religious stipulations for medical treatment or funeral or burial requirements, those can be explicitly stated as well. You can create an advanced medical directive that will speak to the kind of care you require under your religious beliefs, and you can either spell out your funeral or burial wishes or state simply that you wish for your personal representative to make those decisions. If you have made your wishes known to your personal representative and ensured that someone you trust is in that role, then they should carry out your wishes regarding funeral and burial.

You can also account for your mental health care by utilizing a relatively newer document called a mental health treatment directive. This document generally states that you wish for your medical agent to be able to make decisions about your mental health treatment if you are not able to make those decisions on your own. Mental health treatment may include psychological or psychiatric care.

While not necessarily a medical decision, if you have specific wishes for a funeral or memorial service, you are able to include those in your legal documents. Depending on the type of will you create, you can spell out what kind of service or additional details you’d like to have for your funeral.

Although uncomfortable, it’s necessary to have a clear idea of what you would like regarding your medical care as well as funeral and burial. Talk to a lawyer about medical documents if you need advice or would like to ask questions about what can be included.