Advanced healthcare directives that can be part of an estate plan

Most Missouri residents know that a will is a very important component of a good estate plan. But there are additional healthcare documents that can be included in the plan that can help cover a variety of different medical situations. So here is a look at the advanced healthcare directives that can be used in Missouri.

The first of these is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Choices. This document is similar to a traditional power of attorney. The only difference is that it allows the testator to name someone who can make health care decisions for them if they should become physically or mentally incapacitated. The testator can specify in this POA if he or she wants the document to take effect as soon as he or she becomes unable to make their own health care decisions or to wait until his or her doctor and another physician certify this to be true. The testator can also choose to have only one doctor make this decision rather than two.

The next document is a Health Care Choices Directive and, in many ways, this is just like a living will. The difference is that the directive allows the testator to make a wider range of healthcare decisions than a standard living will. It lets the individual describe exactly what their health care choices are if they are no longer able to speak for themselves. The individual can identify specific treatments that they do not want if they have a terminal condition. It also allows them to express their options regarding organ donation as well as what they believe is an adequate quality of life.

For these documents to be legal, they have to be signed by the testator and witnessed and signed by two other individuals. However, any Missouri resident who is considering using advanced healthcare directives may want to speak with an estate planning attorney in order to fully understand the options that these documents can provide.

Source:, "Missouri advance directive", Accessed Sep. 8, 2015

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