Advance medical directives (1764)

Key points below

Living Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy for patients over 18 years of age

What are advance medical directives?

They are legal papers. It tells others how you would like to be cared for if you are not able to make decisions for yourself.

What are my rights?

There are two kinds of advance directives.

You can have either one or both kinds of advance directives. Both are legal documents.

  1. Power of attorney for healthcare.
    You must name a health care agent. This person will make decisions for you if you are not able to do so. The health care agent should be someone you know well and trust. They will make decisions for you only if you cannot do so. Your doctor decides if you can make decisions or not.

  2. Living willls.
    This tells your doctor and others about the kind of health care you want when you are ill and cannot make decisions. The living will takes effect only if you are dying or are in deep state of unconsciousness or coma. This is known as a persistent vegetative state. Two doctors or your doctor and a licensed psychologist can decide this.

What should I think about when I am making the directives?

Let your values be your guide. Think about what is important to you. If you could not speak for yourself, would it be important for you to:

What is covered in this directive?

You can limit or refuse things that would keep you alive if there is little or no chance of recovery.

Make your limits known about:

How do I make advance directives?

  1. Check state laws about living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care.
  2. Put your wishes in writing, using an approved form. Be as specific as you can.
  3. Sign and date your advance directives with two witnesses who are not related to you.
  4. Keep a card in your wallet to let others know you have advance directives. The card should tell others where to find the papers.
  5. Talk with your family and friends about your advance directives. Give a copy to anyone who might be notified in an emergency.
  6. Review your advance directives often and make changes as needed. Update copies you have given to others.
  7. Make copies and give them to your health care agent, your doctor and any other staff giving you care.

What if I change my mind?

As long as you are able to make decisions, you can cancel your advance directives. You need to tell your doctor and health care agent.

No one else can cancel your advance medical directive; unless they can prove you were not thinking clearly when you created the living will.

Who can help me make an advanced directive?

For more information


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.