How to Make a Living Will or Advance Directive in Times of COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a cruel reminder that life can change at any moment. The best thing you can do is prepare for as much as possible ahead of time. While everyone is aware of the unfortunate health outcomes the virus can have on you and your loved ones' lives, people are seriously considering updating their healthcare directives. If you wish to review current documents or create one from scratch, here's a little help.  

What Is an Advance Healthcare Directive?  

An advance healthcare directive (AHCD) or living will is a legal document that dictates how you would like to be taken care of in the case of adverse medical situations, such as COVID-19. It lets your healthcare team know how you want your medical decisions to be made if you cannot do so for yourself and who holds the right to make those decisions on your behalf.  

Pick a Trustworthy Healthcare Agent  

AHCD gives you an easier way to appoint a healthcare agent or proxy who is legally authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you can't speak for yourself. While most people choose their spouse or one of their close friends or family members as healthcare agents or durable power of attorneys, in times like COVID-19, it is wise to have multiple agents.   

Take Every Situation into Account While Preparing Healthcare Instructions  

Be sure to consider every possible situation while preparing your healthcare instructions. Clearly provide a statement of your wishes about prolonging life or withholding or withdrawing treatments. You can even state additional wishes, directions, and instructions about organ donation and the disposal of remains.   

Clearly conveying your wishes to your loved ones via AHCD ensures that your decisions regarding future medical care are followed, with exceptions. For instance, in most severe cases of COVID-19, intubation may be necessary. If you have made an advanced directive stating that you don't want to be intubated, doctors will not withhold the ventilator unless they believe there is no hope of recovery. This is because healthcare instructions become effective only if doctors determine terminal illness.   

How to Create an Advanced Healthcare Directive  

Although creating an AHCD is not complicated, the content can be complex and carefully thought through. It contains short and simple statements guiding your loved ones to make the right medical decisions based on your wishes.   

When in distress, others may confuse their wishes with yours, which may end up creating chaos. The easiest way to avoid this is to convey your wishes clearly to every family member, especially those who would be taking care of you.   

When you are ready to begin, follow these steps to create an advanced healthcare directive:  

Step 1: Get the Documents  

Obtain your state-specific living will or advanced healthcare directive form.  

Step 2: Decide What Help You Might Need and Your Instructions  

State your decisions about receiving life support treatments at the end of life. Highlight your goals and wishes and make sure to convey them precisely. For example, if you wish to donate your organs, include a provision for it.  

Step 3: Get a Proxy  

Naming your healthcare proxy, also known as healthcare power of attorney, medical power of attorney, or healthcare agent, is an essential part of the advance healthcare directive. This is the person who is directly responsible for your healthcare decisions when you can't make them.  

Step 4: Have a Witness Authorize It  

Make sure to get the document countersigned by a witness to make it legally binding. This person can be anyone over 18 years old, excluding your healthcare proxy.  

Step 5: Inform People About It and Save the Documents  

Make sure your family and friends know about the healthcare directive. Keep your documents stored securely in a central location so that they can find them quickly if the need arises.  

Create Your AHCD or Living Will with Complete Wills  

Complete Wills combines the best set of resources to make it easier for you to create an advanced directive in a few minutes while complying with your state's laws. We enable you to create an advanced directive with simple step-by-step instructions with an exhaustive range of templates to choose from. 

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