Advance Health Care Directives in New Mexico can serve multiple functions in terms of appointing someone to make end of life medical decisions delineating the types of life-sustaining treatment, articulating preferences about organ donation and other matters. The sophistication and technological advances of extraordinary life-extending medical science has created difficult choices between quality of life and/or personal autonomy and extending one’s life as long as possible. The personal nature of the ethical, religious and philosophical principles that guide such considerations mean that those preparing such a document need to understand how these estate planning documents function. Accordingly, our New Mexico Estate Planning Attorneys have provided answers to some common questions:
Do I need to select someone to act as my agent to make decisions if I am incapacitated?
An advance health care directive may include provisions appointing a surrogate to make decisions if you become incapacitated which involves the health care power of attorney provisions of the advance directive. If you decide to appoint an agent to make decisions for you, it is important to also select an alternate in the event the agent you appoint is unable or unwilling to act in this role.
Alternatively, you can simply define the parameters within which you elect to approve life-sustaining treatment. Some of the forms of life-prolonging measures you might want to address include artificial hydration, DNR orders and artificial nutrition. The terms of the advance health care directive also may indicate that you want medication and care to focus on keeping you comfortable and free of pain even if it may result in passing away sooner (i.e. Hospice care).
What type of situations involve use of an Advance health care directive?
An advance health care directive will be used if you are incapacitated in terms of your ability to make medical decisions or communicate your wishes, and any of the following apply: (1) your doctor determines to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that you will not regain consciousness; (2) you are expected to pass away within a relatively short period of time because of a disease, injury or medical condition that cannot be cured or reversed; or (3) probable benefits of treatment are outweighed by the potential burdens and medical risks.
How do I change my preferences or terminate an advance medical directive?
An advance directive and any grant of authority to a surrogate decision-maker regarding health care decisions may be modified by executing a superseding document or revoked by an executed writing or indicating such a revocation to my physician.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.
If you have estate planning questions about incapacity planning and end of life medical care, our New Mexico Attorneys at Jay Goodman & Associates, PC offer a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your specific situation. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.