ABA guide helps lawyers, health professionals improve advance directives

The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging is releasing an important new tool to help lawyers  provide more effective health care advance directives for their clients. The Advance Directives: Counseling Guide for Lawyers details best practices, a counseling checklist for lawyers and eight principles to guide patients and clients through the advance care planning process.

“Advance directives too often do not have the intended effect on end-of-life decisions,” said Louraine Arkfeld, chair of the Commission on Law and Aging. “Too often they lack relevant guidance. This guide developed with both legal and medical health care professionals will enable lawyers to craft advance care planning documents that are effective in clinical decision-making when it counts.”

Research on advance care planning suggests that people talk to their lawyers and doctors about advance directives. However, the two professions see the planning through a different lens. The guide provides guidance that allows lawyers to craft advance care directives that align with the clinical realities and family situations clients may face.  

The guide’s checklist offers an itemized listing of what is expected of lawyers throughout the advance care directive process – from preparation before an initial client meeting to follow-up recommendations for after the document is signed.

The guide also offers links to self-help tools lawyers can provide to clients to help them understand and plan for the kinds of decisions they will face in planning for their future health decisions.

To download the guide, click here

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