When and why is a care directive useful?

When does a care directive make sense??

Whether it’s a stroke, dementia or a serious accident, any of us can find ourselves in a situation where we are no longer capable of making decisions. In such a case, how can you still be sure that decisions are made in your best interests??

For example with a Care directive. In the following, we will introduce you to the precautionary document.

Protection in the event of an emergency

The care decree (or. A care proxy is one of the most important precautionary documents in Germany, along with a health care proxy and a living will.

With a care directive, you appoint one or more persons to make decisions on your behalf if you are legally incapacitated.

Your guardian can, for example, represent you in court, terminate contracts on your behalf or decide on your care facility.

Why is a care directive important??

When it comes to making provisions for the future in Germany, there is a widespread misconception – namely that if you become incapacitated, your partner and children are automatically authorized to represent you.

This is not correct.

Without a care directive, neither partner, children nor other relatives have automatic decision-making power. Instead, the guardianship court appoints a person to take care of you.

This can be a relative, but in many cases a so-called professional guardian is chosen. In 2015, legal guardians were appointed to 37% of people in need, according to the Federal Office of Justice.

A care directive makes sense for everyone

If you want to make provisions for a possible case of guardianship, you should write a guardianship decree. This is basically advisable for everyone – after all, fate can strike anyone.

From a serious illness to a sudden accident. For doctors, legal expenses insurance is also useful.

By the way: You can also draw up a care directive if you no longer have full legal capacity (for example, due to dementia or mental disability).

What can the caregiver take on?

In your care directive, you can specify exactly which tasks your caregiver should and should not take on. With your consent, your guardian can represent you in the following areas, for example:

  • Property matters,
  • Housing matters,
  • Health care,
  • Authorities,
  • Insurance,
  • Social benefits.

For all tasks, the guardian has the same rights as a legal representative. Only tasks that you can continue to perform yourself may not be transferred to your caregiver.

This can include, for example, everyday matters such as taking care of the household or making purchases. It is also better to regulate organ donation in your living will or an organ donor card.

What is the difference between a care directive and a health care power of attorney??

With both precautionary documents, you designate a legal representative in the event that you are no longer capable of acting. However, there is one crucial difference: with a health care proxy, the authorized persons only need the original power of attorney to represent you.

There is another hurdle with a care directive: The caregiver or caregivers cannot perform tasks on your behalf until the court has officially appointed them to do so.

In the case of a care directive, a court order is required first. It protects your self-determination and prevents abuse of the power of attorney.

In addition, the guardianship court controls the guardian even after the appointment – especially with regard to property matters. This is not the case with a health care proxy.


A care directive is an important precautionary document that makes sense for everyone – after all, you probably don’t want a third-party professional guardian to take care of your personal affairs.

In many cases, it is a good idea to combine the care directive with a health care power of attorney and a living will.