You’ve probably heard of a living will and durable power of attorney for health care. These are two of the most common types of advanced directives. However, there are many formats of advanced directives.
Some follow forms that state laws outline and others are created by attorneys. State laws and courts decide if the documents are valid, and all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have laws regarding them.
Before you have an advance directive created, or try to create one yourself, you should make sure you know what the laws of your state are.
You should also learn about the types of advanced directives you may need. Here are the most common:
📌Living Will – This is a legal document that states your healthcare wishes if you become unable to make such choices on your own.
It will only be used if you become terminally ill (cannot be cured) or are permanently unconscious. It described what conditions an attempt to prolong your life should start or stop, as well as what treatments you may want including tube feedings, dialysis, or the use of breathing machines.
You may choose to take back, or end your living will at any time.
📌Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare – This document may also be called a medical power of attorney and is a legal document in which you name a proxy, or agent, to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself.
Before you are allowed to create a power of attorney, your physician must certify that you are able to make your own decisions. If you become unable to make your own healthcare decisions, your proxy will speak with your healthcare team on your behalf and make decisions based on your wishes that you gave them earlier.
If you didn’t make your wishes known, they will make decisions based on what they think you would want. Your proxy should be someone that knows you well and that you trust to act on your behalf.
📌Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders – Resuscitation is when a medical team attempts to restart your breathing and heart using CPR and a defibrillator if your heart or breathing stops.
In some cases, they may need to use life-sustaining equipment such as breathing machines. In the hospital, if you have a DNR in place, nothing will be done to try to keep you alive.
If you do not wish to be resuscitated outside the hospital, you can ask your healthcare provider how to get a bracelet, wallet card, or other DNR documents to keep at home or on your person.
📌Organ Donation – You can choose to list your organ and tissue donation status in your advanced directives. Many states add this notation to your driver’s license or provide an organ donor card to keep in your wallet.
An advanced directive isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Thankfully, there is a good selection to pick from and you can find the right one that will work for your needs.
Make sure you talk to an experienced attorney first before getting anything set in stone.