What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An Advanced Health Directive is a written document which provides special directions to your agent as to whether or not you wish to have limitations placed on your health care options. Essentially, you are laying out under what circumstances medical care will be provided to your person if you become seriously ill and are unable to make a competent decision on your own behalf.

Living Will

A Living Will is a written document a person may execute indicating to a physician, hospital, nursing home, etc., the person’s desire for a physician to initiate, continue, withhold or withdraw certain life sustaining medical treatment in the event the person becomes incompetent or terminally ill.

The wishes of the person, as to whether to prolong his or her life on artificial life support systems, are stated in a valid Living Will and must be followed by his or her health care providers. If a person’s wishes change as to whether to receive life support treatment after execution of the Living Will can easily be revoked or changed by that person.

The Living Will has many benefits for both the declarant and his or her family. The Living Will can give the attending physician the authority to terminate life support treatment, which often only prolongs the process of dying and causes loss of patient dignity. Also, maintaining a person on life support systems may be a very traumatic and costly process for the person’s family.

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