While it is not exactly pleasant to think about, New Jersey residents might want to take the time to consider what end-of-life care they want when they are near death and who they want to make health care decisions on their behalf if they are incapacitated. It can help to legally document these preferences, so that they are upheld when the time comes. To do this, people will need to execute an advance directive. New Jersey recognizes two types of advance directives: instruction directives and proxy directives.
Instruction directives are also referred to as a living will. In this document, a person will detail whether and when they want, or do not want, to have life-sustaining treatment should they be unable to express their preference on the matter. This document serves as a guide to doctors and loved ones who may need to make such decisions per a proxy directive.
A proxy directive is also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care. In this document, a person appoints an individual who will make decisions regarding the person’s health care, should the person be incapacitated. A proxy directive can take effect in the event of temporary incapacitation or permanent incapacitation. The appointed health care representative will make decisions based on one’s instruction directive or, absent that, in what they believe to be in the person’s best interests.
You do not need to be sick or dying to execute advance directives. In fact, doing so while you are still healthy and competent can relieve a lot of stress both for you and your family with regards to this delicate topic. However, it is important that any advance directives executed are legally sound, so they can be enforceable. Elder law attorneys may be of assistance in such situations.