Advance directive

Advance directive

A stitch in time saves nine. Draft your advance directive.

Who pays your bills, opens your mail, sells your home and selects a nursing home if you are no longer capable of surviving on your own?

Who runs your business if you excuse yourself indefinitely because of illness or accident?

Become Incapacitated

Accidents befall everyone. At any time. As do sudden illness (COVID-19!) and dementia. Anyone can lose decision-making capacity temporarily or permanently. It is foolhardy to consider otherwise. The prudent course for everyone who has a business or dependents is to authorize a person they trust to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated. And to do so now, while they are still fit and able. I can help.

Scope of the right of representation by the spouse

Orderly administration of income and other financial assets, meeting maintenance needs

Most people assume their spouse can stand in for them. Not necessarily. A spouse can open your mail and pay bills if he or she has joint ownership of your checking account, but there is more to the iceberg.

Extraordinary asset management

Is the deed to your house held jointly by your spouse? Your safe deposit box? Your Bitcoins? What about your business? The odds are you have exclusive legal control over many of the assets in your estate and business. Without a valid Advance Directive authorizing someone to act on your behalf, those assets will be frozen. Worse, a guardian may be appointed.


Decide who can act on your behalf if you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated, and in what decision-making capacity – personal, medical, financial, or legal. Appoint someone who is trustworthy, capable of making difficult choices, and willing to shoulder those responsibilities. Be specific as to their mandate, the scope of their delegated authority.

An Agent’s mandate is commonly personal, medical, financial or legal.

Personal care mandate

A personal care mandate confers legal authority to conduct everyday matters, such as opening the mail, organizing home health care providers, hiring cleaning services, and so forth.

Medical decisions are often delegated by Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney to a designated Medical Agent who is authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf, decide on lifesaving treatments, and follow the instructions in your Living Will.

Asset custody

Financial matters, such as checking and paying bills, managing income and conducting business are often handled by a different Agent. The person should numerically literate and, as before, extremely trustworthy.

Representation in legal matters

In addition, an Agent can represent you in legal matters. He or she can execute or rescind contracts on your behalf and represent you before regulatory bodies and courts.

Describing the tasks, issuing instructions

An advance directive defines your agents, their respective delegated responsibilities, and your instructions regarding those responsibilities.

Safe keeping

The advance directive must be drawn up in the correct form. It can only be enforced, if its existence and whereabouts are known. Your safe deposit box and the back of a remote file drawer are not prudent options. You may register the place of deposit with the registry office. In the canton of Zurich, the place of deposit for advance directives is the child and adult protection authority (CAPA) at the domicile of the principle.

Would you like help preparing an advance directive? Working together, we can bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones if you ever should become incapacitated.