10MinuteWill.com Advance Directive

Your Guide to Advance Directives

An Advance Directive is a legal document that allows you to state your choices for medical treatment before you actually need such care. It may also name a person to make treatment choices for you. A signed advance directive will only be followed in the event that you become mentally or physically unable to convey your wishes regarding medical care decisions.

Your Directive to Physicians
Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
 (Commonly referred to as a Living Will)
A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates is a form that allows you to instruct physicians to administer, withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment when it has been determined by your physician that you have an irreversible or terminal condition and you are not able to communicate. Life-sustaining treatment is a treatment or procedure that includes life-sustaining medications and artificial life supports, such as mechanical breathing machines, kidney dialysis and artificial nutrition and hydration, that is not expected to cure your condition or make you better, and is only prolonging the moment of death.

Points to Remember
This advance directive allows you to tell doctors and those close to you what you wish to be done or not done should you need life-sustaining treatment.

  • Discuss your wishes with your physician, family, clergy or friends.
  • You can change or cancel your Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates at any time for any reason.
  • Your advance directive goes into effect only when you have a terminal or irreversible condition and are unable to make your own health care decisions.
  • Your advance directive applies only to health care decisions. It does not apply to financial matters.
  • A copy of this signed advance directive should be provided to your physician, family members or significant others, the person chosen as your agent to make health care decisions and/or your attorney.

Your Medical Power of Attorney
Medical Power of Attorney (formerly known as Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care)
A Medical Power of Attorney is a form that allows you to appoint someone (your "agent") to make health care decisions for you if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. These decisions can include (1) agreeing to or refusing medical treatment; (2) deciding not to continue medical treatment; or (3) making decisions to stop or not start life-sustaining treatment.

Points to Remember
The person you choose as your agent makes decision for you only if you cannot make decisions for yourself. Your agent may NOT make decisions regarding:

  1. Voluntary inpatient mental health services
  2. Convulsive treatment
  3. Psychosurgery
  4. Abortion
  5. Withholding treatment intended for comfort.

Discuss your advance directive with the person you have chosen as your agent, your physician and/or attorney. Also, give these individuals copies of your signed Medical Power of Attorney form. You can change or cancel your Medical Power of Attorney at any time for any reason. The Medical Power of Attorney applies only to health care decisions. It does not apply to financial matters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where should I keep my advance directives? 

A: You should keep the advance directive forms that you sign and give a copy to your regular doctor and others who are likely to be with you if you become seriously ill. Give a copy of your living will and your medical power of attorney to the person you have chosen as your agent. You should keep a record of everyone who has a copy. Remember, you can change or cancel an advance directive at any time. If you wish to cancel an advance directive while you are in the hospital, tell your doctor, family, health care agent, and others who need to know.

Q: Do I have to have an advance directive? 

A: No one may force you to sign an advance directive. No one may deny you medical care or insurance coverage because you choose not to sign one. You are not required to complete advance directives as part of patient registration in a hospital, nursing home, or home health care agency. If you do sign one, it will not affect any other of your rights to consent to or refuse medical treatment.

Q: What if I don't have an advance directive? 

A: If you have not signed an advance directive and you become ill and cannot state your wishes, your attending physician and certain family members can make decisions about your care.

Q: When should I complete one? 

A: It is never too soon to talk about serious illness and what treatments you would desire if you were too sick or unable to state the treatment choices you would want to make. This topic is important for everyone to:

  • Think about
  • Talk about with your doctor and family
  • Put choices in writing in one or more advance directives

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