Who Makes My Health Care Decisions If I’m Too Sick to Speak for Myself?

Adults in Alabama have the right to make decisions about their own medical care.  But what if you’re too sick to talk or to make choices for yourself?

An advance directive, also called a “living will,” is a document you can use to describe ahead of time the kind of care you would or would not want in certain situations.

For example, you can use an advance directive to let your doctors and family know that you do or do not want to be put on a feeding tube if you ever become permanently unconscious.   Under Alabama law, nurses, doctors, and hospitals must follow your wishes as stated in your advance directive or transfer you to a facility that will follow your wishes.

If you do not have an advance directive then members of your family will have to make decisions about your care for you.

You may not want to burden them with that obligation, or you may be concerned that they would make different decisions about your medical care than you would choose for yourself.  For those reasons, it’s a good idea to have an advance directive.

You can also use an advance directive to appoint a health care “proxy” – a person who can make decisions and speak for you if you are too sick to speak for yourself.

You can state in your directive whether you want your proxy to be able to make decisions about things that are not covered in the form, or if you want to give your proxy the power to make final decisions about your health care, even if those decisions are different from what you chose in the advance directive.

Advance Directives have lots of options and can be confusing.

While you can sign an advance directive on your own it’s a good idea to have an experienced attorney guide you through the process to be sure that  your wishes are accurately stated.

An advance directive is an important part of your estate plan, and we want to help you with it. Call our Tuscaloosa office at 205-553-5353 today and set up an appointment to discuss your options.

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  1. […] of serious illness.  What if you’re too ill to handle your business affairs?  What if you become unconscious and cannot communicate with your doctors?  What if you become so ill that you […]

  2. […] If you become incapacitated and you do not have an advance directive, then Alabama law dictates who will make medical care decisions for you. The responsible person may not be who you would have chosen, or even worse that person may […]

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