Advance Directives: Make Your Wishes Known
An advance directive is a form that explains the kind of medical care you want—or don’t want—at the end of your life. Without it, family members and doctors will use their best judgment if you can no longer make your own decisions.
Here are two types of advance directives:
- Living will: This is a written document. It explains your wishes about health care. It is used if you have a terminal illness. It is also used if you can’t make decisions for yourself and need medical care to stay alive.
- Medical power of attorney: You name a trusted relative or friend to make decisions about your health if needed. This person is your “substitute decision maker.”
To set up an advance directive, talk to your doctor or a lawyer. Or, do some research on the Internet. You don’t need a lawyer to create your advance directive. It must be signed in front of witnesses.
Give a copy to your doctor, lawyer, friends, and family. If you’ve named a substitute decision maker, give that person a copy. You can change your advance directive at any time.