Published on March 17, 2022

Do You Have An Advance Directive?

Advance Directive

Advance Directives is a general term to describe documents that outline treatment a person would or would not want at the end of life (Living Will), as well as who a person would like to make healthcare decisions for them in the event they cannot make those decisions themselves (Healthcare Power of Attorney).

A Healthcare POA is different than a Financial POA, which is typically done with an attorney. 

A Healthcare POA can be temporary and is only in effect when a person cannot make decisions.

Advance Directives need to be completed and either 

  • witnessed by two individuals not named or related to anyone in the document, or 
  • notarized by a Notary  Public

The  MOST IMPORTANT PART of creating your advance directives is to have a thorough conversation with your family, Healthcare POA and primary care provider.  And it is much easier to have those discussions while you are in good health and of sound mind.  If someone has a moderate degree of confusion, it could be too late for them to complete advance directives. 

If a person does not name a Healthcare POA, healthcare providers will ask next of kin – parent, spouse, child and siblings – for guidance. 

Keep a copy with your important papers – not in a safe deposit box.  Give a copy to your Healthcare POA and your primary care provider.  Hospitals will ask every time you come in if you have updated advance directives to make sure they have the most recent copy.  The only thing you need to do to change them, is complete new documents as described above and get rid of the out-dated copies. 

Sometimes different states recognize advance directives from other states, but if you spend any length of time in another state, it might be a good idea to complete advance directives there as well. 

A Guardian is named through a court process for someone who has been deemed incompetent.  

A DNR, or Do Not Resuscitate, is a physician’s order and should be discussed with your primary care provider.

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