At our law firm, we help our clients create advance health care directives, known as living wills. An experienced attorney will provide the advice you need to thoroughly consider your options and write your directive to comply with Delaware law.

Power of attorney for health care

In a living will, you can appoint someone to act as your health care agent should you become incapacitated or unable to communicate. You can also name an alternate agent. You may choose to limit the agent’s powers.

Take the time to carefully choose the best person for this responsibility. Each close relative and friend has different qualities that would come into play in a stressful medical emergency. Each person you might consider has a different relationship with you and degree of understanding of your personal philosophy toward medical treatment.

Be sure that you discuss the role with your prospective agents so that they consent and are not surprised by the appointment and so you can assess whether they are a good fit.

The agent must follow your directions in your directive as well as consider other wishes of yours they might know about. Otherwise, they must make decisions based on what they think you would do and in your best interests.

If you eventually have a terminal condition or become permanently unconscious, your agent may also make decisions about whether you will have medical interventions that will sustain or allow life to end, based on your direction, wishes, values and best interest. Such interventions may include withholding fluids or nutrition, resuscitation and others.

Direction for medical decisions

In the document, you can provide detailed directions about what medical treatment decisions you would want to be made in particular situations.

Some people feel most strongly that they want to include directions for end-of-life decisions. For example, in a life-threatening situation, you might want minimal invasive intervention. Or, you might believe that physicians should try every possible intervention to sustain life. Including your wishes in this area would help your agent (and family members) at an extremely difficult time.

Before you execute the living will, it can be helpful to have a discussion with your treating doctor about potential treatments and decisions so that you understand the pros and cons of what you are directing. This is especially true if you have a medical condition that may complicate decision making. You can tailor the instructions to cover contingencies related to your diagnoses.

This is a broad introduction to a complicated area of Delaware law. Specific legal advice will help you clarify your intentions and execute a health care directive that brings peace of mind.