A complete and well-drafted estate plan should do more than just determine how your materials assets are distributed after your death. It should also protect both your assets and you while you are alive. One way to do that is to include advance directives in your estate plan.
The estate planning attorneys at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby would be honored to discuss your advance directive options with you and facilitate the execution of those advance directives you choose to include in your estate plan.
Our attorneys will explain advance directive options with you and facilitate the execution of those advance directives you choose to include in your estate plan.
Call for a free consultation so we can help you create your will.
What Are Advance Directives?
An advance directive is a legally enforceable written statement that reflects your wishes regarding healthcare decisions and/or treatment. The purpose of an advance directive is to ensure that those wishes are honored if you are unable to express them yourself at some point in the future.
Why Is It Important to Include Advance Directives in My Estate Plan?
Incapacity planning should be an integral part of any comprehensive estate plan because incapacity can strike at any age. If you are incapacitated at some point, someone else may need to make critical health care decisions for you. Not only might you want to decide who will have the legal authority to make those decisions, but you might also feel strongly about some of the decisions that have to be made. Executing the appropriate advance directives allows you to decide who will make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated as well as make your wishes clear regarding certain end-of-life medical treatment decisions.
Without the appropriate advance directive in place, a judge could end up appointing someone to make health care decisions for you. That person may not know what your wishes are regarding critical end-of-life medical care. Ultimately, someone not of your choosing could wind up making health care decisions for you without considering your wishes.
What Advance Directives Are Available in Tennessee?
Advance directives are governed by state law, meaning each state decides what type of advance directives are recognized and what (if any) specific language must be included to create a valid advance directive. The State of Tennessee recognizes two types of advance directives that must be in writing, signed by the principal, and either be notarized or witnessed by two witnesses. Those advance directives include:
- Appointment of Health Care Agent. This advance directive lets you name someone (your “Agent”) to make decisions about your health care. Unless otherwise written in your advance directive, your Appointment of Health Care Agent becomes effective upon a determination by a physician that you lack capacity and ceases to be effective upon a determination that you have recovered capacity. Under Tennessee law, “capacity” means your ability to understand the significant benefits, risks, and alternatives to proposed health care and to make and communicate a health care decision. If you want your Agent to make health care decisions for you now, even though you are still capable of making health care decisions, you can indicate that in your advance directive.
- Individual Instruction. Tennessee’s version of a “Living Will” is referred to as an “Individual Instruction.” That type of advance directive allows you to give specific instructions about your health care, including your wishes regarding pain management and life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical treatment. For example, you can express your desire to accept pain management medications if you are in a state of permanent confusion or are permanently unconscious. Conversely, you can express your wish to refuse CPR or life support if your quality of life becomes unacceptable and you are suffering from an irreversible medical condition.
The Murfreesboro estate planning attorneys at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby look forward to helping you create an advance directive for inclusion in your comprehensive estate plan. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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