BEYOND: Advance Care Planning for Financial Advisors & Lawyers from Doctors on April 16-17th.


By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP


Staff Reporters via National Institute of Health


National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.

NHDD was founded in 2008 by Nathan Kottkamp, a Virginia-based health care lawyer, to provide clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to both the public and providers/facilities through the widespread availability and dissemination of simple, free, and uniform tools (not just forms) to guide the process.

NHDD is a series of independent events held across the country, supported by a national media and public education campaign. In all respects, NHDD is inclusive and brings a variety of players in the larger healthcare, legal, and religious community together to work on a common project, to the benefit of patients, families, and providers. A key goal of NHDD is to demystify healthcare decision-making and make the topic of advance care planning inescapable. Among other things, NHDD helps people understand that advance healthcare decision-making includes much more than living wills; it is a process that should focus first on conversation and choosing an agent.

As of June 2016, The Conversation Project has been responsible for the management, finances, and structure of NHDD.  NHDD’s founder, Nathan Kottkamp, continues to be involved in NHDD and provides leadership by ensuring the maintenance of NHDD’s high quality resources and support for the community.

Read more about NHDD’s founding:



DEFINITION: What is advance care planning for financial advisors and lawyers?

Advance care planning involves discussing and preparing for future decisions about your medical care if you become seriously ill or unable to communicate your wishes with your estate planning attorney or financial advisor. Having meaningful conversations with your loved ones is the most important part of advance care planning. Many people also choose to put their preferences in writing by completing legal documents called advance directives.

What are advance directives?

Advance directives are legal documents that provide instructions for medical care and only go into effect if you cannot communicate your own wishes.

The two most common advance directives for health care are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care.

  • Living will: A living will is a legal document that tells doctors how you want to be treated if you cannot make your own decisions about emergency treatment. In a living will, you can say which common medical treatments or care you would want, which ones you would want to avoid, and under which conditions each of your choices applies. Learn more about preparing a living will.
  • Durable power of attorney for health care: A durable power of attorney for health care is a legal document that names your health care proxy, a person who can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate these yourself. Your proxy, also known as a representative, surrogate, or agent, should be familiar with your values and wishes. A proxy can be chosen in addition to or instead of a living will. Having a health care proxy helps you plan for situations that cannot be foreseen, such as a serious car accident or stroke. Learn more about choosing a health care proxy.

Think of your advance directives as living documents that you review at least once each year and update if a major life event occurs such as retirement, moving out of state, or a significant change in your health.


Who needs an advance care plan?

Advance care planning is not just for people who are very old or ill. At any age, a medical crisis could leave you unable to communicate your own health care decisions. Planning now for your future health care can help ensure you get the medical care you want and that someone you trust will be there to make decisions for you.

  • Advance care planning for people with dementia. Many people do not realize that Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are terminal conditions and ultimately result in death. People in the later stages of dementia often lose their ability to do the simplest tasks. If you have dementia, advance care planning can give you a sense of control over an uncertain future and enable you to participate directly in decision-making about your future care. If you are a loved one of someone with dementia, encourage these discussions as early as possible. In the later stages of dementia, you may wish to discuss decisions with other family members, your loved one’s health care provider, or a trusted friend to feel more supported when deciding the types of care and treatments the person would want.

What happens if you do not have an advance directive?

If you do not have an advance directive and you are unable to make decisions on your own, the state laws where you live will determine who may make medical decisions on your behalf. This is typically your spouse, your parents if they are available, or your children if they are adults. If you are unmarried and have not named your partner as your proxy, it’s possible they could be excluded from decision-making. If you have no family members, some states allow a close friend who is familiar with your values to help. Or they may assign a physician to represent your best interests. To find out the laws in your state, contact your state legal aid office or state bar association.

Will an advance directive guarantee your wishes are followed?

An advance directive is legally recognized but not legally binding. This means that your health care provider and proxy will do their best to respect your advance directives, but there may be circumstances in which they cannot follow your wishes exactly. For example, you may be in a complex medical situation where it is unclear what you would want. This is another key reason why having conversations about your preferences is so important. Talking with your loved ones ahead of time may help them better navigate unanticipated issues.

There is the possibility that a health care provider refuses to follow your advance directives. This might happen if the decision goes against:

  • The health care provider’s conscience
  • The health care institution’s policy
  • Accepted health care standards

In these situations, the health care provider must inform your health care proxy immediately and consider transferring your care to another provider.

Other advance care planning forms and orders from doctors

You might want to prepare documents to express your wishes about a single medical issue or something else not already covered in your advance directives, such as an emergency. For these types of situations, you can talk with a doctor about establishing the following orders:

  • Do not resuscitate (DNR) order: A DNR becomes part of your medical chart to inform medical staff in a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want CPR or other life-support measures to be attempted if your heartbeat and breathing stop. Sometimes this document is referred to as a do not attempt resuscitation (DNR) order or an allow natural death (AND) order. Even though a living will might state that CPR is not wanted, it is helpful to have a DNR order as part of your medical file if you go to a hospital. Posting a DNR next to your hospital bed might avoid confusion in an emergency. Without a DNR order, medical staff will attempt every effort to restore your breathing and the normal rhythm of your heart.
  • Do not intubate (DNI) order: A similar document, a DNI informs medical staff in a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want to be on a ventilator.
  • Do not hospitalize (DNH) order: A DNH indicates to long-term care providers, such as nursing home staff, that you prefer not to be sent to a hospital for treatment at the end of life.
  • Out-of-hospital DNR order: An out-of-hospital DNR alerts emergency medical personnel to your wishes regarding measures to restore your heartbeat or breathing if you are not in a hospital.
  • Physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) forms:These forms provide guidance about your medical care that health care professionals can act on immediately in an emergency. They serve as a medical order in addition to your advance directive. Typically, you create a POLST or MOLST when you are near the end of life or critically ill and understand the specific decisions that might need to be made on your behalf. These forms may also be called portable medical orders or physician orders for scope of treatment (POST). Check with your state department of health to find out if these forms are available where you live.
  • MORE:

Medicare Enrollment at CMS?

At enrollment, Medicare in the future could offer three advance directives with goals of care: Directive A: CONSENT to treat — inpatient medical treatment Directive B: CONSENT to comfort — home bound holistic care Directive C: CHOOSE against medical advice — outpatient palliative resources.


You may also want to document your wishes about organ and tissue donation and brain donation. As well, learning about care options such as palliative care and hospice care can help you plan ahead.



Thank You


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: