Advanced directives are legal documents in which a person (called the principal) grants power to another (their agent) to make decisions for them. They inform doctors, hospitals, banks and brokers whose direction (other than your own) they can follow in your care and transactions. Advanced directives should be your first line of defense against incapacity, because they can help someone stop you being abused or exploited, and can be used instead of a guardianship, which can save time, money, and embarrassment. Advanced directives include:
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate, which grants the power to make healthcare decisions;
A Living Will, which tells doctors and hospitals what types of life sustaining procedures you want or do not want under certain situations;
A Durable Power of Attorney, which grants the power to make legal and financial decisions; and
A Designation of Preneed Guardian, which tells a Court who you would want to make medical and/or financial decisions for you in the event that someone files a guardianship proceeding over you.
If you are concerned about losing your mental faculties or your loved one is slipping but still able to make rational decisions, then you should retain an attorney to draft and execute advanced directives as soon as possible.