There are those who would say that their faith is why they don’t need much of an estate plan. They trust that what will happen should happen and that the people they know will treat them with decency and respect.
For some people, their faith could be a compelling reason why they should create a more comprehensive estate plan. Specifically, they may want to add an advance health care directive so that they don’t have to worry about receiving medical treatment that violates their personal beliefs.
How does faith affect medical care?
What someone believes can absolutely influence what medical care they believe they should receive. For example, there are drugs developed using stem cells that those with firmly pro-life positions may oppose. There are religions that have rules against blood transfusions and faiths with rules about cutting one’s facial hair or removing physical blemishes.
Doctors typically need to follow a patient’s wishes when providing care. However, when a patient cannot speak for themselves, the doctor will make decisions based on best practices at that time and with the resources available to them. Unless there is someone with the authority to act on behalf of the patient, you cannot know for certain if the care you receive will align with your wishes.
Your faith-based medical wishes may deviate from best practices in some areas. If you are not present or conscious speak for yourself when professionals decide what care to provide, they could give you treatment that violates your deeply held beliefs and may put you at odds with your church.
How an advanced directive helps
Your advance directive makes it clear what treatment you wish to receive and what treatments you would not approve if you could speak for yourself. You will be able to make your preferences explicitly clear and also to authorize someone to act on your behalf regarding medical care.
When you have someone you trust making your medical choices, you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing doctors will not violate your religious beliefs in a medical emergency. Thinking about what matters most to you can help you include the right documents and terms in your estate plan, including a health care directive that aligns with your faith.