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This legal document should be a part of every Georgia estate plan.

The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care combines two essential elements of any estate plan: the power of attorney for health care and living will.

You always have the right to control your medical treatment. However, if you can’t communicate with your health care provider, someone else will need to make medical decisions on your behalf. The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care addresses this scenario by allowing you to do the following:

  • Choose a power of attorney for health care agent

Your health care “agent” is a person you appoint to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot (or do not want to) make medical decisions for yourself. Your agent would have the same authority to make medical decisions as you would. For example, they may consent to any type of health care, refuse medical treatment, and admit you to a hospital.

You may choose a primary agent and one or more alternate agents. At Thrift McLemore, we advise our clients to select someone who knows them well and that they trust to carry out their wishes. Our clients usually select a family member or close friend. You may wish to inform your agent(s) about the possibility of acting and tell them the location of the document.

Keep in mind, a health care power of attorney does not give your agent authority over financial decisions. For financial matters, you will need a financial power of attorney.

  • Nominate a guardian

A court will appoint a guardian for you if it finds that you cannot make significant decisions for yourself regarding your personal support, safety, or welfare. By nominating a guardian, you let the judge know your preferences.

You may choose the same person you selected as your health care agent to act as your guardian. Keep in mind that if you choose someone other than your health care agent, your health care agent can overrule the guardian regarding medical decisions unless a court determines otherwise.

  • State your wishes for end-of-life medical care

The living will component of the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to state the life-sustaining measures you would want in an end-of-life situation if you cannot communicate your wishes. While these decisions can be difficult to contemplate, your instructions provide clarity and guidance to your loved ones during a difficult time and ensure that you always have a voice in your care.

  • State your preferences for after death

The Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to designate your preferences with respect to an autopsy, organ donation, body donation, and final disposition of your body.

By making your health care wishes known, the Advance Directive for Health Care reduces confusion and disagreements amongst your loved ones. Do not wait until you are in the midst of a medical emergency to prepare this document. Take the time to learn about this document and prepare it correctly.

For more information or to speak with an experienced Georgia estate planning attorney, contact our office at (678) 784-4150.

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