When you create an advance directive, you lay out your wishes for medical care in writing. These are decisions you would typically make in person, at the time they need to be made, but the advance directive gives you some insurance if you're unable to do that. You can address things like what lifesaving machines you want the doctors to use and whether or not you should be resuscitated.
- You have severe dementia. You can no longer make choices for yourself. You do not understand the situation or the ramifications of your decisions, and you cannot accurately make your desires known to your family.
- You went into a coma. It is impossible for you to communicate your wishes. Without an advance directive, your family has to make those choices for you.
- You are suffering from a terminal illness. For instance, perhaps you had a stroke. You can no longer talk or communicate with those around you. Even if you still understand the situation, you have no way to express your desires.
- You suffered a serious injury. You may have gotten in a car accident, for instance. When you arrived at the hospital, you were still unconscious. Doctors need to act quickly, and it helps to know what you would want them to do.
An advance directive helps you when the end of your life does not come as smoothly as you'd hoped. It takes a lot of pressure off of your family. A New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you set one up.