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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

Talking to an Attorney about Health Care Directives

We’ve talked before about the statistics that show the overwhelming benefits for creating advance directives.  Doctors, patients, and families are all more comfortable with knowing the wishes of a loved one, so they can honor those wishes appropriately.

While talking with your doctor about your wishes is one step in the process, there are reasons that attorneys also have such an important role.  Advance directives are medical choices, but they often have implications beyond the immediate, implications that a WealthCounsel attorney can specifically help you consider.

Family Dynamics

In a crisis or emergency, family members feel comforted when they can gain a small amount of control.  Attorneys help their clients capture roles for family members and loved ones, and they consider factors that medical professionals might not.  Estate planning attorneys also consider the overall family dynamic, such as where family members live and what their lives entail, and how that might impact a person’s advance directives.  For example, one daughter might be a nurse, but she lives in California and has seven kids, whereas another daughter lives on the Front Range without any children.  While the first daughter may be a medical professional, a person with so many other responsibilities may be unavailable in the moment of emergency.  Attorneys help you consider these outside factors that are unrelated to your specific medical needs, but might very well make the difference in an emergency.

Financial Implications

Attorneys consider the interactions between your finances and your medical care.  It’s not that an attorney would tell you to opt for a lower cost of care that would put you in jeopardy, but part of our job is to allow doctors to focus on your best possible treatment while we consider the financial implications and help you plan and prepare for the outcomes and what they mean for your plans and for your family.  This depends on your age, the level of care you anticipate needing in your lifetime, and what are your beliefs for prolonging life.  All of these considerations interact with your finances in different ways, and an attorney can help you navigate these tricky situations so your family always has peace of mind.

Beyond the Literal

Clients often express as part of their directives a desire to “die at home.”  Attorneys understand that this isn’t always possible, but a Legacy Plan allows a person to capture the meaning of “at home” beyond the literal space between the walls.  What pictures, songs, home videos, wall art makes a place “home” to one person or another?  Your Legacy Plan has room for these kinds of wishes where other medical directives do not.

Social workers also have a substantial role in understanding these wishes as part of your overall health and wellbeing, separate from your medical care.  At Swan Law, we often work with other professionals to give you options and guidance that make sense for crafting a plan that gives you peace of mind.

Young People

If you were injured in a car accident in Utah and unable to speak for yourself, your primary care physician likely wouldn’t be contacted right away.  For many young people, changing health care plans from year to year has become the standard, and with it, a newly assigned primary care doctor.  Having plans that stand alone from a specific doctor’s office are beneficial for people who travel often, for young people who are not primarily concerned with long-term care, and for those who do not frequent the doctor’s office.  Still, emergencies can happen, and that’s why we include DocuBank as part of all of our estate plans.


Medical professionals can help you make informed decisions about your health, but when it comes to setting up a plan that will work for you and your loved ones in an emergency, consulting an attorney is an important step in this process, especially if you have specific medical directives and wishes.

If you want to know more about this important topic, give us a call at 970-879-1572 or send an email to

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