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Advance Directives: Make Your Healthcare Wishes Known
Advance Directives are written instructions, such as a living will or durable
power of attorney for healthcare, that are recognized under State law (whether
statuary or as recognized by the courts of the State), and are related to the
provision of health care when the individual is incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney, or healthcare proxy, allows you to appoint a
person you trust as your healthcare agent (or surrogate decision maker)
who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf. Before a medical
power of attorney goes into effect, a person’s physician must conclude that they are unable to make their own medical decisions.
- If a person regains the ability to make decisions, the agent cannot continue to act on the person's behalf.
- Many states have additional requirements that apply only to decisions about life-sustaining medical treatments.
- For example, before your agent can refuse a life-sustaining treatment on your behalf, a second physician may have to
confirm your doctor's assessment that you are incapable of making treatment decisions.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
- Advance Directives are legally valid throughout the United States.
While you do not need a lawyer to fill out an Advance Directive,
your Advance Directive becomes legally valid as soon as you sign
them in front of the required witnesses. The laws governing
Advance Directives vary from state to state, so it’s important to
complete and sign Advance Directives that comply with your state's
law. Also, Advance Directives can have different titles in
- Emergency Medical Technicians cannot honor Living Wills or Medical
Powers of Attorney. Once emergency personnel have been called, they
must do what is necessary to stabilize a person for transfer to a
hospital, both from accident sites and from a home or other facility.
After a physician fully evaluates the person's condition and determines
the underlying conditions, Advance Directives can be implemented.
- One state’s Advance Directive does not always work in another state. Some states
do honor Advance Directives from another state, for example
Idaho Advance Directives
and Oregon Advance Directives
are both honored in each state while others will honor
out-of-state Advance Directives as long as they are similar to the state's own law;
and some states do not have an answer to this question. The best solution is if you
spend a significant amount of time in more than one state, you should complete the
Advance Directives for all the states you spend a significant amount of time in.
- Advance Directives do not expire. An Advance Directive remains in
effect until you change it. If you complete a new Advance Directive,
it invalidates the previous one.