Do you have an Advance Healthcare Directive?

If not, let April 16th – National Healthcare Directives Day – help motivate you to get this done.

The last couple years of being in a worldwide pandemic have been hard on everyone. Most of us know someone who has died of COVID or at least been hospitalized in critical condition. The use of ventilators and other mechanical respiration as a very successful means of treatment has changed the way many view this type of intervention. Indeed, modern medicine can do amazing things, but it can also require some very difficult decisions.

Thinking about your own medical preferences and sharing those preferences with loved ones is critical. Your loved ones can’t act on your wishes unless they know what they are. Beginning this conversation can be a bit scary at first, but it’s a great gift for the people who care about you as well as to your own well-being during a healthcare emergency. Without the conversation, there can be confusion, conflict, and guilt in a situation that’s already very stressful.

To begin this healthcare decision conversation, talk about your values and experiences, what’s important to you. Eventually as part of complete advance care planning, you will want to sign a medical power of attorney and possibly other estate documents. A power of attorney is a legal document that names one or more people you trust to make medical decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself.

However, it is important to remember that advance care planning is more than just a document. It’s a process of planning and conversation that needs to be revisited throughout your lifetime as your medical needs and technology change.

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is coming on April 16th. This wonderful nationwide initiative encourages adults of all ages to plan ahead of a health crisis. The Conversation Project ( and Five Wishes ( are two wonderful organizations that provide numerous resources to help you start planning for your own directives as well as having these conversations with your loved owns to ensure they have also planned. Estate planning firms, like Holmes Shirley Law, also can be a great local community resource to guide you through this process.

When we make decisions ahead of time and put those wishes in writing, we bring peace of mind to our families. We enable caregivers to advocate for us when we are unable to do so for ourselves.

By Karen H. Shirley, Esq.
Holmes Shirley Law