There comes a day when we all must deal with our mortality. This is often difficult to do, but it’s important to have the wishes for the end of your life carried out. Your estate plan is a great way to ensure that those wishes are honored.
You may wonder if you need an advance directive for health care or do not resuscitate order (DNR) if you become incapacitated. However, it would be a mistake you use these terms interchangeably because they are different documents.
Advance directive for health care
An advance directive allows people to determine several things. You may plan years ahead of time for when your doctor should administer healthcare, refused or ceased altogether. Revoking an advance directive is more difficult than a DNR, aside from the document’s destruction or creating a new one. You can revoke an advance directive verbally, but you must follow up in writing within 30 days.
Do not resuscitate order
A DNR refers specifically to CPR and created with your personal doctor when you have a medical condition that can lead to your imminent death, little-to-no brain function and no possibility for recovery, or when performing CPR on you would only extend your life for a short time without further compressions. You may consent to or revoke a DNR verbally or in writing in the presence of a witness.
If an advance directive for health care is for the long term, a DNR is for the immediate future.
Storing your estate planning documents
No matter which route you decide to take, you should make sure that you have either document accessible. If you become incapacitated and your final wishes no one can find them, it’s less likely a doctor will know to follow your instructions.
To ensure that your documents are retrievable, leave a copy with your lawyer or tell a trustworthy person their location. This will increase the chances that you can have your end-of-life wishes honored. Taking the time to create either document is an important step and you don’t want that planning to go to waste.