What is an Advanced Directive?

by Kaitlyn Ranze

My husband, Alex with my father-in-law, a day after our daughter was born.

When the pandemic hit, I was one week postpartum. I was lucky enough to escape labor and delivery without the restriction of visitors to the hospital. Not lucky enough to escape the isolation of raising a newborn without a village. Or the depressing realism and sense of mortality a pandemic inspired.

Half way through my maternity leave, I rubbed the sleep deprivation out of my eyes and brushed off the haze of postpartum and pandemic depression. Between naps and diaper changes, I got to work addressing our legacy.

I planned, using nav.it’s Legacy Health Check. With every checked box, I gained a sense of control. I couldn’t control the economic recession or a shortage of toilet paper. I could control what happened “what if.”

What if I fall ill? What if I can’t I can’t decide for myself what to do? Do I have an advanced directive? WTF is an advanced directive?

Often called a living will, an advanced directive advises everyone what you want done in case you’re unable to decide for yourself.

Do you really need an advanced directive? And why is it important to your financial legacy?

We turned to our Queen of the Courtroom, Patience Kaysee, for her expertise.

“Just as important as other legal documents such as a will, advanced directives specify what actions should be taken regarding a person’s health in the event they are unable to make decisions because of illness or incapacity.”

She goes on to explain, “Besides their legal implications, they make it easier for a person’s family to take necessary action in the future without the need for further court intervention or delay.”

Not making it explicitly clear can get ugly and costly.

The controversy surrounding the death and care of Terri Schiavo is a perfect example of why Advanced Directives matter. In 1990, Terri Schiavo tragically suffered a massive heart attack at 26-years-old. Though she survived, she fell into a persistent vegetative state. 

Nav.it’s Legacy Health Check

Eight years later, Terri Schiavo’s husband and legal guardian argued that Terri would not have wanted prolonged artificial life support without the prospect of recovery. He elected to remove her feeding tube in 1998. However, Schiavo’s parents disputed not only her diagnosis but what their daughter’s desires were. 

After years of a costly legal battle, the tube was removed in 2005. This was only after years of Schiavo’s husband and family waging a very public and emotional battle.

But I hear you. This is Terri Schiavo’s case, not mine. Who has a massive heart attack at 26?

Overcoming Optimism Bias with a Plan

Optimism bias causes someone to believe that they themselves are less likely to experience a negative event. 

Emergency funds, insurance plans, advance directives – they help mitigate the financial and emotional toll of thinking “this could never happen to me.”

It’s why we built the Legacy Health Check in the nav.it money app. It’s also why we ask whether or not you have an advance directive. 

As Patience points out, “It takes the guesswork out of things so that the person can get fast, efficient care when it’s most necessary.”

Related Reads:

Your Legacy Health Check

Mitigating Risks with Health Insurance

Plan Ahead

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