What is an Advance Directive?
And Why do YOU Need One?
An Advance Directive is a legal document that describes clearly the decisions you have made about your own medical treatment and end-of-life choices.
It is used only if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
There are two types of advance directive.
A Living Will is a direct statement by you to your physician to forego life-sustaining interventions and medical treatment when you have a terminal condition and death is imminent.
This document applies only in very limited circumstances.
It provides no direction if your condition is not terminal. And it does not name someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Powers of Attorney for Healthcare
A Power of Attorney for Healthcare is a much broader document.
It names someone you have chosen (known as your healthcare agent or proxy) to make decisions about your healthcare, medical treatment, and hospitalization if you become incapable of making those decisions for yourself, whether or not you have a terminal condition.
It is also a written statement of your treatment preferences.
It becomes effective only if and when you become unable to make your own decisions.