Five ways to ensure that a advance directive will be followed

Dear Dr. CC,

As you know, both my parents are former clients of your law practice.  I learned from them that it is important to have advanced directives prepared ‘just in case’ I might need one.  So, I have one (made my husband get one, too).  We are concerned, though, that even though we have them they might go unrecorded or get ignored.  How do we guard against this happening?

Your estate plan fan,

Margo Hagan

Dear Margo,

You have asked a question that surprisingly seldom gets asked.  There are a number of things you can do to help ensure the likelihood that your advance directive (AD) will be followed when – and if- the time comes.  Here’s how:

  1. Be sure to share copies of your AD with all your healthcare providers and those who hold your healthcare power of attorney/ health care decision maker/ health care proxy.
  2. Communicate with your family and friends that you have had an AD drawn up and that you expect them to speak up about if it the need should arise.
  3. Carry a card in your purse or wallet with the names and contact info for your healthcare power of attorney/ health care decision maker/ health care proxy and a statement that you have a AD on file at your doctor’s office/local hospital/etc..  Make sure the holder of this document has placed a copy in your medical file.
  4. Make sure your family knows where to find your signed and notarized AD.
  5. Give several relatives and friends their own copy of yours, so that there is no excuse for one not coming to light, if needs be.

By the way, I remember your parents well.  They were fun clients!

Dr. CC


Dr. CC (Cathleen V. Carr, MA JD MscD)  offers  professional elder care giving  advice, advocacy, education and training for  those who care for the elderly, frail and chronically ill. She offers Elder Law, Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning, Geriatric Care Management and Benefits Counseling free of charge on the Elder Care Advice blog.  Her comments are general in nature and scope, unless otherwise noted, and not intended to be relied upon as case specific legal advice for non clients.  Any communications via this blog or otherwise are not to be construed as having formed an attorney client relationship of any kind, under any circumstance not supported by a current retainer agreement between the parties.

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