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Advance Directives Attorney in Mobile, Alabama

If you've recently undergone a medical procedure or been admitted to the hospital, you've probably been asked whether you have a living will or an advance directive to place on file. 

Advance directives help you plan ahead with your healthcare decisions, offer peace of mind, and ensure that your wishes are respected. At The Seawell Law Firm, we're here to help you understand the process of setting up an advance directive that truly mirrors your values and preferences. Reach out today to start exploring your options. 

What Are Advance Directives?

An advance directive is a set of written instructions about your healthcare and medical choices. It specifies your end-of-life wishes if you can’t speak for yourself. When you are physically and mentally competent, you can decide how you want your care to be handled if you become very sick or injured. Advance directives can include: 

  • Living wills: A living will states the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do or do not want, such as resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, or tube feeding. 

  • Durable power of attorney for healthcare: This document designates a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. 

  • Do not resuscitate (DNR) orders: A DNR order indicates you do not want to receive CPR or other life-saving measures if your heart or breathing stops. 

  • Physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST): A POLST form complements a living will by providing detailed instructions for healthcare professionals. This form is typically used for patients with serious illnesses or elderly patients who want to outline their preferences for treatments such as antibiotics, artificial nutrition, or hospitalization. 

  • Organ and tissue donation directives: These indicate your wishes regarding organ and tissue donation after death. This can include specifying whether you want to donate any organs, tissues, or your entire body for transplant, research, or educational purposes. 

  • Mental health treatment preference declaration: This document expresses your preferences about treatments, medications, and therapies related to mental health, should you become unable to make these decisions due to a mental health crisis. 

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Why Are Advance Directives Important?

Advance directives are important for several reasons. Having this type of estate planning document in place can offer the following benefits:

  • Ensures your wishes are respected: Advance directives give you control over your medical care, even when you are unable to express your wishes. 

  • Reduces stress for loved ones: By clearly outlining your preferences, you can reduce the emotional burden on your family and friends who might otherwise have to make difficult decisions on your behalf. 

  • Prevents conflicts: Advance directives can prevent disagreements among family members about your care, ensuring a smoother and more harmonious process. 

  • Provides peace of mind: Knowing that your wishes will be followed can bring a sense of comfort and security to you and your loved ones. 

  • Facilitates communication: Advance directives can serve as a starting point for important conversations with your loved ones and healthcare providers about your values, beliefs, and preferences regarding medical care. 

  • Legal protection: A legally documented advance directive can protect you from unwanted treatments and protect your loved ones from potential legal battles over your care. 

  • Promotes patient-centered care: Advance directives ensure that healthcare providers understand and respect your health needs and preferences, leading to more personalized and appropriate care. 

  • Supports informed decision-making: These documents ensure that decisions about your health care are made with your informed consent. 

Alabama's Advance Directive Laws

In Alabama, advance directives are governed by specific state laws. It's important to be aware of these regulations to comply with legal requirements. 

In Alabama, the form has two parts: a living will and a healthcare proxy appointment. In the living will section, you answer "Yes" or "No" to questions about the types of treatments you want. These questions cover situations like having a terminal illness or injury or being in a state of permanent unconsciousness. By answering, you tell doctors whether you want life-sustaining treatments. 

The healthcare proxy appointment lets you choose someone to make decisions for you. This person enforces your wishes about life-sustaining treatment and artificial food and water.  

At The Seawell Firm, LLC, our experienced estate planning attorney can help you craft an advance directive that complies with Alabama law.

What If You Don’t Have an Advance Directive?

If you don’t have an advance directive and can’t speak for yourself, Alabama law (Ala Code §22-8A-11) decides who will make decisions for you. The order of decision-making is typically:

  • Your spouse (unless you are separated or getting a divorce) 

  • An adult child 

  • A parent 

  • An adult sibling 

If no relatives are found, a committee comprising the attending physician, the ethics committee of the hospital ,or the chief of medical staff or their designee (if there is no ethics committee), a clergyman, or an independent social worker will decide.

Advance Directives Attorney in Mobile, Alabama

Choosing the right legal partner is critical when your future is at stake. The Seawell Firm is unique because we offer legal services with compassionate care, approachability, and dedication. Call us if you’re local to Mobile, Alabama, Baldwin County, Mobile County, Fairhope, or Daphne. Together, we can create a comprehensive and legally sound advance directive that reflects your values and preferences.