An essential part of your estate plan is an Advance Directive for Health Care (Advance Directive) yet clients rarely have them available when needed – like going to the emergency room (ER). As elder law and estate planning attorneys, we advise clients to give their health care provider and hospital a copy of the document so it will be available. However, many ERs and hospitals either do not have copies of the Advance Directive or cannot locate them in their electronic records.
By federal law, a hospital must ask you if you have an Advance Directive. If not, they offer you one to complete. You may not be competent at the time or you may just name the person with you – who may not be the person you really want making your health care decisions.
Always having your Advance Directive with you is best way to assure it will be available when needed, but often a person does not think or want to do this because they change purses, the document is too bulky or they just forget that it is in the glove compartment of their cars.
An easier option is to send your emergency information and Advance Directive to DocuBank. This program is available at some elder law and estate planning attorney’s offices. The Advance Directive and emergency information is provided to DocuBank and you receive a laminated Emergency Card that contains the call number or e-mail address. The card lists important medical conditions and allergy information as well as current medications. The cost is $55 per year or $175 for 5 years, or you can use your credit card for automatic deductions. They do not require original documents.
If you want to be certain your caregivers, including the ER, know the kind of treatment you want and the persons you want to make decisions, make it easy to provide your Advance Directive to them.