Make Sure Your Medical Directives are Easily Accessible

Make Sure Your Medical Directives are Easily Accessible

Have you finished creating your estate plan? That’s great, but your work is not quite complete. You also need to ensure all documents are easily accessible. This is especially important for your medical directive, which your loved ones may need to find quickly in an emergency situation.

According to a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical directives (such as living wills) are inaccessible in approximately 74 percent of cases when hospitals need to find them to determine their patients’ wishes. That’s three out of four people who actually create these documents, but then potentially still do not end up having their wishes carried out.

The following are a few tips to ensure your medical directive is easily accessible:

  • Make sure loved ones know where to access it: Tell your spouse, child or other trusted friend or loved one where they can access your medical directive. It could be kept in a physical filing cabinet or in a file on your computer.
  • Make copies: Give a copy of your health care power of attorney, for example, to the person whom you will designate that power. Provide a copy to the attorney who helped create your estate plan. Leave a copy with a trusted friend or loved one. You should try to keep the number of copies you have lying around at a minimum, but strategically distributing them will help make your document more accessible.
  • Have a “go box” for the hospital: If you are in a condition in which you know you are vulnerable to illness or hospital stays, you could have a “go box” prepared that includes some needed items, along with information on your medical directives. A trusted loved one can be in charge of bringing this box to the hospital and providing the information to the physician in charge of your care.
  • Arrange for your attorney to hold a duplicate original for you:  Many attorneys will do that for you at no cost.  Just be sure that your loved ones know that you have one on deposit with your attorney.

If you need help establishing a medical directive or other key documents as you plan for the future, consult a dedicated Tampa estate planning attorney with BaumannKangas Estate Law.