As you age, you are likely to experience some normal aches and pains. You may also develop chronic medical conditions that require close monitoring. Eventually, due to incapacitation from a serious injury or illness, you may lose the ability to make your own medical decisions.
Having a comprehensive advance directive is an effective way to remain in control of your medical care. With this planning tool, you outline the procedures you want doctors to use and those you would like them to forego. You may also name a health care surrogate to make medical decisions on your behalf.
The importance of reviewing your advance directive
Like most estate planning documents, your advance directive requires regular reviews and updates. After all, not only may your wishes change over time, but medicine is also likely to evolve. If you do not review and update your advance directive, it may not reflect your genuine wishes.
A schedule for reviewing planning documents
It probably makes sense to establish a schedule for reviewing your advance directive and other estate planning documents. Often, individuals choose to examine their advance directives at the beginning or end of each year. If any of the following apply, however, performing an immediate review may be smart:
- You have married, divorced or otherwise changed the makeup of your family
- Your health care surrogate is no longer available
- You have developed a new illness or suffered a new injury
- You have changed your mind about a medical procedure
- You have not reviewed your advance directive in more than two years
Ultimately, by revising your advance directive regularly, you give your relatives, friends, and doctors accurate instructions for your medical treatments and end-of-life care.