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ADVANCE DIRECTIVES ATTORNEY IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

We hope that we will always be healthy and in control of our own decisions. However, life can be unpredictable, and you do not know what can happen to you tomorrow or a few years from now. Have you ever thought about who will make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated?

The uncertainty can be eliminated by creating an advance directive that will ensure you receive the medical care that you choose in the event of your physical or mental incapacity. At the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, we help people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area, set up enforceable advance directives that will guide their families and healthcare professionals through the medical treatment they wish to receive.

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What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a collection of legal documents that spells out how you want decisions related to your healthcare to be made if you can no longer communicate your wishes. Most people use an advance directive to appoint someone they trust to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they lose their capacity to make decisions on their own.

An advance directive is called an “advance” because the document is signed by the patient in advance to let their loved ones and medical professionals know their wishes regarding medical care. Pennsylvania law recognizes four types of advance directives:

  1. A durable power of attorney for medical care

  2. Power of attorney for mental health

  3. Living will declaration

  4. Mental health declaration

Why Do You Need an Advance Directive?

There are many reasons people choose to set up advance directives. Common reasons to establish an advance directive include:

  • Your wishes will be carried out. An advance directive spells out your preferences and wishes regarding medical care.

  • You can protect yourself. Your family members or healthcare providers may not know what medical procedures you would prefer or reject when you can no longer communicate your wishes.

  • You can remove the burden from your family. Making decisions for a loved one can be challenging, especially when family members do not know your preferences or disagree with each other. An advance directive can remove that burden from your family.

Healthcare Representative

When you create an advance directive, you can authorize a person you trust – your healthcare representative – to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. The healthcare representative will have the authority to make most decisions related to your medical care. Common examples of decisions that a healthcare representative can make on your behalf include:

  • Choosing a hospital and doctor

  • Consenting to medical procedures

  • Making arrangements for long-term care

  • Making decisions regarding end-of-life care

When setting up an advance directive, you will choose the healthcare representative on your own. Usually, people choose their family members, including a spouse or adult child, or a close friend familiar with their preferences and wishes regarding medical care. It is also recommended to appoint a successor to your primary healthcare representative to serve as a backup if your primary representative dies or becomes incapacitated.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Directive

In Pennsylvania, a do not resuscitate (DNR) directive allows you to opt out of life-saving treatments if you suffer a heart attack or stop breathing. In other words, a DNR order is a legal document that tells healthcare providers not to perform life-saving procedures if a patient experiences respiratory or cardiac arrest. The DNR directive must be signed by the patient or their authorized representative and the patient’s doctor to be valid.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining
Treatment (POLST)

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, which is commonly referred to as POLST, is a directive that gives you more control over your end-of-life care. The order allows you to spell out the types of life-sustaining medical procedures that you would want to receive at the end of your life. The order must be signed by the patient or their authorized representative and the patient’s healthcare professional.

ADVANCE DIRECTIVES ATTORNEY SERVING PITTSBURGH, PA

An advance directive is a critical document that allows you to specify your wishes for medical care and appoint a person you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you become physically or mentally incapacitated. At the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, we help people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area, set up a legally binding and enforceable advance directive based on their specific goals, needs, and circumstances.