Completing a Health Care & Funeral Directive: End of Life Wishes

final wishes

Making sure your final wishes are respected is an integral part of taking ownership of your health and estate, both now and in the future. Unfortunately, if you don’t take the time to outline these decisions and make clear arrangements concerning the treatment you would like to receive – or not receive – when you become ill or injured, then it may be left up to others to decide for you. Creating a comprehensive health care and funeral directive can help ensure that end-of-life decisions are made on your terms.

What Is a Health Care and Funeral Directive?

A health care and funeral directive combines your wishes in writing pertaining to your health treatment and funeral. In the health care portion, you can record your wishes about medical treatments including resuscitation, artificial nutrition, organ donation, and other treatments. As for the funeral portion, you can create a funeral directive which typically appoints a primary person who has the power to carry out your preferred funeral arrangements. Making these decisions while healthy is key to ensure that your wishes are heard and respected when you cannot advocate for yourself.

A properly executed health care and funeral directive can help you with the following:

  • Allows you to name a trusted person (your “Agent”) to make medical decisions for you when you are either unable to make or communicate such decisions or choose not to do so.
  • Allows your Agent to communicate with health care providers, insurance companies, and other individuals or entities that are providing health-related care to or for you.
  • Allows you to outline the medical treatments that you do or do not want to have.
  • Allows your Agent to obtain or review your medical records in order to make decisions concerning your health care.
  • Allows you to address questions such as:
    • “Who has the right to visit me when I’m sick?”
    • “Should a family member be paid to provide care for me in my home?”
    • “Who attends meetings with doctors and other are providers relative to my care?”
    • “If I am sick – who chooses where I live and receive care?”
  • Allows you to address topics that mean the most to you, such as family traditions and cultural or spiritual beliefs.
  • Allows you (or, as applicable, your Agent) to proactively address issues that arise after your death, such as organ donation, cremation, and planning the type of funeral that you desire (if any).

Why Should You Start Your Health Care & Funeral Directive

As with any estate planning document, there are several common reasons as to why people do not follow through with establishing a health care and funeral directive.

Some common examples may include:

  • “I am too young or too healthy and do not need a health care and funeral directive.”
  • “My family already knows what is needed.”
  • “The doctors know what is best.”
  • “I have already paid a funeral home to pre-plan my funeral – I don’t need to do anything else.”

However, emergency scenarios may not allow you the time to prepare your health care and funeral directive. In addition, your family may not be entirely sure what your wishes are. If you were to be suddenly rushed to the hospital due to a tragic event, such as a car accident, stroke, or heart attack. You would want your family and your medical team to know what your health care wishes are if tragedy strikes.

In the absence of a properly executed health care and funeral directive though, your family members can only guess. A health care and funeral directive is a gift to your friends and family and will lessen the stress for your loved ones when making decisions related to your health care during your life, your end-of-life care, and passing.

Starting Your Health Care and Funeral Directive

When starting your health care and funeral directive, it’s important to remember that your desires and wishes are paramount, and there are no right or wrong answers. To begin discussing and working through the health care and funeral planning process, we recommend you begin by focusing on several key steps, including:

  • Learning why preparing a health care and funeral directive is important.
  • Thinking about who you want to appoint to make health care and funeral decisions for you.
  • Considering your health care values and goals.
  • Thinking about any specific medical treatments you do and do not want.
  • Sharing your values, goals, and choices with your loved ones, your Agent, and your medical team.

Once prepared, be sure to review your health care and funeral directive often. Remember, life moves forward day by day and you do as well. Big changes in your life may mean updates will be needed.

Contact Kennedy & Ruhsam Law for a complete guide in crafting the health care and funeral directive for your health and well-being. Our team understands the sensitivity of these matters. However, we also know that by completing this process, you can relieve stressors for your loved ones. With over 65 years of collective legal experience, our team is dedicated to helping you in this important stage of life.

Call us at (651) 369-7749 or contact us online to plan ahead.