It is often uncomfortable to think of a disease or accident so severe that it renders us unable or incapable of managing our own healthcare. However, for all of us the time will eventually come where we will need to rely on family, friends and medical professionals. To protect your closely held beliefs and provide our loved ones with clear guidance regarding your wishes, a living will or health care directive can be appropriate.
The attorneys of the Jayson Law Group, LLC are committed to helping baby boomers and other individuals concerned with healthcare or estate planning issues. We always listen to the wishes and goals of our clients before developing a plan likely to protect the things that are important to you.
Attorneys Draft Healthcare Directives for New Jerseyans
A New Jersey Healthcare Directive, also called an Advanced Directive or Medical Directive, protects your right to only receive the types of medical treatment to which you provide consent. Healthcare directives are appropriate for all types of people including:
- individuals with strongly held beliefs,
- people with quality of life concerns
- religious individuals
In short, an advance directive is essential for any person who is concerned about the medical treatment they may receive should they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves. A medical directive isn’t solely about your own wishes. Settling these issues with a clear statement can prevent conflict and additional anxiety among your loved ones during an undoubtedly difficult time.
A healthcare directive can be executed on its own or as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Some plans go into effect when your doctor and one additional physician provide written notice that you are no longer capable of competently understanding and making decisions regarding your health. While the exact form of a healthcare directive varies, it can contain three main elements:
- Proxy declaration – A proxy declaration is a written statement that allows you to appoint another adult to be your healthcare representative. When you can no longer make decisions for yourself, this individual will be empowered to make decisions on your behalf regarding your healthcare.
- Living Will – The declaration of instructions regarding your future healthcare is a living will. Before making this important decision, you should consult with not only an experienced lawyer, but also your family, your proxy, your doctor, and any other trusted advisor. In this document, you describe the circumstances under which medical treatment or life-support should be provided, withheld or discontinued. You also are likely to define what key terms, like terminal condition, means to you. Other issues including resuscitation, brain death, and organ donation should be fully explained
- Authentication and witness requirements – For the healthcare directive to be valid, it must be executed in accord with the methods that are statutorily provided. A healthcare directive may be executed either in the presence of witnesses or before a public notary, an attorney or other person authorized to administer oaths. If you choose to execute the contract in the presence of witnesses, the witnesses must be at least 18 years old and they must sign a written document indicating that they believe you to be of sound mind, that they are not the appointed healthcare representative, that they believe you signed the directive voluntarily.
However a living will or healthcare directive does not necessarily have to appoint a proxy and provide instructions. Depending on the circumstances and planning needs, one or the other may be sufficient. However, it is essential to note that regardless of your planning requirements, the signature and witness requirements must always be fully and faithfully complied with or your directive is likely to be unenforceable if challenged.
Can I Revoke an Advanced Directive?
Oral or written statements or any action that indicates your intent to revoke your consent to the document can revoke your healthcare directive. For instance, executing a subsequent healthcare directive is typically considered intent to revoke the original directive.
The Jayson Law Group can provide careful insight and guidance into healthcare planning and medical concerns for people in Union, Hillside, Newark, Irvington, Springfield and throughout northern New Jersey. For a confidential consultation regarding your living will, call 908-258-0621 or contact us online.