Advance Healthcare Directive

What an advance directive? 

An Advance Healthcare Directive is a legal document in which an individual specifies their preferences regarding medical treatment, end-of-life care, and the disposition of their remains. 

Advance directives only go into effect if the individual is incapacitated and cannot communicate their wishes. Advance Healthcare Directives can also appoint an agent who is authorized to make medical decisions on the individual’s behalf if they are incapacitated. The exact contents of advance directives can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but their general purpose is to ensure that an individual’s healthcare preferences are known and carried out if they are unable to communicate them. 

Types of advance directives

The two most common types of advance directives are: 

Living will 

A living will is a type of advance directive in which an individual’s medical preferences are outlined, telling a doctor how they want to be cared for if they cannot make their own decisions about emergency or end of life treatment. A living will can specify the extent of medical intervention the person would want, often relieving family members of making difficult decisions regarding care and treatment. 

Durable power of attorney for healthcare 

A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a type of advance directive in which an individual names a health care agent or proxy to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event they are incapacitated. A durable power of attorney for healthcare may be created in addition to or instead of a living will, and should appoint someone who is familiar with the individual’s wishes. The benefit of this type of advance directive is that it ensures a trusted person is designated and authorized to make decisions in situations that cannot be planned for in a living will.

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