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Advance Directives FAQs

Get answers to commonly asked questions about what should be in your advanced directives and how to complete them.

Where can I get the forms to complete advance directives?

Examples of an advance directive can be obtained from your physician, hospital or from local groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons, the local Bar Association or County Area Agency on Aging offices. A sample of a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions is included in the back of our patient handbook.

Does a lawyer have to write my Living Will or a Durable Power of Attorney for health care Decisions?

No, you do not need a lawyer to write a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney. You may want to contact a lawyer if you have additional questions or concerns.

What should I put into my advance directives?

The most important thing is to express your wishes, or give permission to your Durable Power of Attorney to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. You may also wish to indicate your wishes regarding organ and tissue donation.

May I name certain treatments that I do not want?

If you want to name certain treatments that you would not want, you may do so.

Where should I keep my advance directives and who should know about it?

Review your Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for health care anytime your personal or health situation changes. If your wishes change: It is important that you tell every health care provider, family or those close to you that may have a copy of your advance directive. If you want to change your Advance Directive or Durable Power of Attorney be sure to:

  • Fill out a new advance directive and/or Durable Power of Attorney, make copies.
  • Give your new advance directive to your loved ones and the health care team involved in your care
  • Make sure to throw away the old copies

Do I need an advance directive now?

It is never too early to begin the Advance Care Planning process. For all adults 18 years and older, regardless of current health status, consider completing an Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for health care Decision Making. Completing your advance directive and assigning a Durable Attorney for health care Decision Making is an important first step in having your health care wishes honored. Talk with your family, those close to you, and your physician about your treatment choices.

If I choose not to designate a Durable Power of Attorney for health care Decisions, who makes treatment decisions for me?

As long as you are able you and your physician together will decide about your care. If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for health care Decision Making and you cannot make your treatment decisions for yourself your doctor may discuss what treatment you should receive with your family members in the following order:

  • Current spouse and adult children from a previous relationship
  • Adult children
  • Parent
  • Adult brother or sister
  • Adult grandchildren
  • Adult Friend
  • In rare cases, Court appointed guardian

I spend several months a year in one state and several months in another. Do I need an advance directive for each state?

You should know the law in each state in which you reside. It may be necessary to have more than one advance directive to meet the legal rules in each state.

What if my physician does not want to follow my advance directive?

It is very important that you talk to your physician about this concern while you are able to do so. If he or she indicates a problem in following your wishes, you have the right to change physicians.

What if a person I name to make decisions for me dies before I do?

It is always a good idea to name a second person to make decisions in case your first choice is not available, for whatever reason.

What is included in the Advance Care Planning Process?

  • Talk with your family, those close to you and your physician before an illness or health care crisis occurs about your wishes about your wanted medical treatment interventions.
  • Choose a Durable Power of Attorney for health care Decision Making.
  • Write down your Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will treatment and health care wishes. Sign, date, and have the document witnessed by two individuals not named in the documents.
  • You do not need to have these documents notarized

What do I do with my Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for health care after I have filled it out?

It is important to talk with your loved ones about what your advance directive says. Be sure to make copies of your advance directive to give to your loved ones and doctor. If you go to the hospital take it with you.

When does my Doctor follow my Advance Directive and speak to my Durable Power of Attorney about health care interventions?

  • When you cannot make treatment decisions for yourself
  • You have and end stage medical condition
  • Your physician can only follow your living Will if he has a copy of your wishes and your wishes were made known to him. A Living Will/Advance Directive is a guideline for your family and doctor about your treatment and end of life care wishes. No automatic action takes place, together your medical team and Durable Power of Attorney will have a discussion.

What are the differences between a Will and a Living Will? What is the Difference between a Financial Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney for health care Decision Making? While both are important, they’re different. A will tells people how you want to distribute your assets after you die. Your Financial Power of Attorney helps with this. In a Living Will, a type of advance directive, you make decisions for future medical care in case you ever become too sick to make decisions for yourself. A health care agent has Durable Medical Power of Attorney and is the person you choose to carry out your medical treatment decisions for you anytime you lose the ability to communicate your wishes.

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