Putting Your Affairs in Order – Advanced Directives Documents You Need Prepared

Given the current pandemic, everyone is trying to make sure that they stay healthy.  You may be wearing a mask or being careful when you leave the house, but have you thought about making sure your loved ones know your wishes about your medical care?  You can communicate your desired treatment by signing certain advance directives: a Living Will; a Health Care Power of Attorney; and a Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (POST).

           A Living Will is a legal document that allows you to make medical decisions ahead of time about life-sustaining procedures in the event you are ever faced with a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state.  You state whether or not you want life-sustaining procedures, such as artificial nutrition or hydration, withheld or used.  This is a statutory form available in South Carolina which means that it is available for free.  However, you should discuss the document with an attorney to make sure that it is properly executed and that you understand the choices you are making in the document.

            A Heath Care Power of Attorney is similar to a Living Will because it also covers decisions if you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state.  However, in a Health Care Power of Attorney you name someone as your agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.  You do not need both a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney.  You should decide which of these documents is best for you.  If you do not know which one you should proceed with or which document works best for your situation you should speak with an attorney to give you advice on the two types of documents.

A Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (POST) is a document that works along with other advance directives.  It is a medical order that you complete with your doctor that addresses key medical decisions about the care that you will receive at the end of your life. You should consider a POST document when you have been diagnosed with a serious illness and may be expected to lose capacity within 12 months.

            You should consider having an advance directive in place so that your family members will know your wishes about your medical care in a situation in which you might not be able to communicate with them.    The attorneys at South Carolina Legal Services can assist you with these documents. To apply for services call 888-346-5592 and speak with one of our In Take Staff.