How Do Advance Directives Preserve Autonomy?

Home » Blog » How Do Advance Directives Preserve Autonomy?
Advance directives
KS and MO Attorney Kyle E Krull

Written by Kyle Krull

Attorney & Counsellor at Law Kyle Krull is president of the Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull, P.A., an Estate Planning Law Firm located in Overland Park, KS. Estate Planning Attorney Kyle Krull has provided continuing education instruction to attorneys, accountants, and financial professionals at local, state, and national programs.

Get To Know Kyle!
POSTED ON: March 19, 2024

Advance directives enable you to legally document healthcare and end-of-life preferences to preserve your values and autonomy should you become incapacitated.

Advance directives for healthcare protect the wishes of the patient.

In many ways, the world is growing more complex.

One example is the medical field.

When I was a child, Dr. Godwin was our family doctor.

He took excellent personal care of each family member, regardless of ailment.

My folks paid him in cash or by check.

With the introduction of health insurance, the rise of hospital systems and medical companies, and the prevalence of people moving for work, patients may change physicians frequently.

The complicated nature of the healthcare landscape makes advance directives essential for every adult American.

According to a recent Forbes Advisor article titled "Advance Directives: What You Need To Know," only one-third of adults have formalized their wishes for medical treatment and end-of-life care.


Advance directives are key to incapacity planning.

The suddenness of illness and injury underscores the value of advance directives.

What are Advance Directives?

Advance directives are legal documents for incapacity planning.

With them, you can list your wishes and preferences regarding medical care and treatment should you be unable to communicate your desires at a future time.

Whether you have a medical crisis caused by illness or injury, advance directives allow you to retain your influence in your healthcare choices and ensure that your values are honored.

What Types of Advance Directives Might You Need?

Health Care Treatment Directives or Living Wills:

These documents provide specific instructions regarding the medical treatments you would like to use or not use to prolong your life.

Health Care Powers of Attorney (POA):

With powers of attorney, you can designate a trustworthy friend or family member to serve as your healthcare agent and make medical decisions while you are incapacitated.

Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders:

As the name suggests, DNR orders instruct medical personnel to refrain from using CPR if your heart stops beating.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST):

After discussing with your medical provider the specific treatments you would want or would like to refuse for end-of-life care, this document is signed by you and your physician. If nothing else, this document identifies specific scenarios either way.

What Makes Advance Directives Important?

Advance Directives preserve your ability to have your medical decisions reflect your preferences, wishes, and values.

They also support empowering patient autonomy, facilitating palliative care, enhancing communication, and reducing healthcare costs.

How do advance directives accomplish these goals?

Empowering Patient Autonomy:

Incapacity can steal autonomy quickly.

By having your advance directives codify your wishes while you can still communicate them, your healthcare decisions can be honored when your ability to communicate has ceased.

Facilitating Palliative Care:

When serious illness strikes, the discomfort and pain of symptoms can grow unbearable.

Advance directives can ensure more focused attention on relieving stress and symptoms of serious illness.

Enhancing Communication:

Families can feel paralyzed when forced to make medical decisions for loved ones, fearing they will get it wrong.

Fights and resentment can also arise in such times of stress and remain afterward.

You can improve the quality of conversations among medical teams and family members through clearly communicated advance directives.

Reducing Healthcare Costs:

Delaying decisions and lack of clarity can add significant costs to healthcare treatment.

You can avoid paying for unwanted medical care by communicating treatments you would not like.

What are the Key Takeaways?

Advance Directives are Helpful for All Adults.

While adults with known medical conditions should undoubtedly take time to create advance directives, illnesses, and accidents can strike swiftly and without notice.

This means all adult Americans should prioritize healthcare planning and communicate their wishes in advance.

Clear Communication Is Key to Effective Treatments.

You should discuss your wishes outlined in your directives with your loved ones and your healthcare agents so they can clarify questions about your preferences.

Review and Update Your Directives Regularly.

Life can force your plans to change.

Sometimes, your wishes for treatment may shift.

Other times, your relationships may be altered.

Your agent could precede you in death or move away.

Marriages and births of children may impact your perspective and your wishes.

Professional Guidance Can Help.

Although you can find templates online, you should discuss your preferences and options with your estate planning attorney or a healthcare attorney to ensure your advanced directives are legally sound and align with your wishes.

In conclusion, advance directives preserve your autonomy over your medical care and provide greater peace and comfort to your loved ones during stressful and emotional times.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice concerning any particular issue or problem. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between Harvest Law KC and the reader.

Share This Post

Get All The Marketing Updates

Blog Silos

Recent Posts

Subscribe to our e-Newsletter and Weekly Blog Digest

Ready to schedule your consultation?

Get Started Now With Harvest Law KC

Get Started Now

REMEMBER: “The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.”
This statement is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Missouri.

Harvest Law KC

5209 W 164th St
Overland Park, KS 66085

Get Directions
IMS - Estate Planning and Elder Law Practice Growth Advisors
Powered by