But perhaps not how you would expect.
At some point, having an Advance Care Plan or Power of Attorney may be the only way your doctors and family members will know your medical treatment decisions. An Advance Care Plan is a legal document that contains your instructions regarding the medical treatment you do or do not wish to receive in the event you become incompetent and cannot make those decisions for yourself. For instance, if you have a medical condition where you are permanently unconscious and totally unaware of your surroundings with little chance of ever waking up, you may choose to not receive any medical treatment and die a natural death. Or, you may be in constant pain and unable to communicate with anyone. Without having an Advance Care Plan, your doctors and family members may not know what medical treatment you would or would not want.
Another important medical planning document is the Power of Attorney, which allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. These can range from financial decisions to medical treatment decisions, and can be effective only while you have capacity or even in the event you become incompetent. The person you appoint, known as your attorney-in-fact, can help manage your financial affairs on your behalf, and if granted the power to make health care decisions, must follow any instructions you leave in your Advance Care Plan. For instance, if you have an unexpected hospital visit, your attorney-in-fact could pay your bills and manage your social security benefits, and also see that your medical treatment decisions are carried out as specified in your Advance Care Plan.