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Advance Health Care Directives

An Advance Health Care Directive is a written document that gives another person the power to make health care and related decisions for you.

How Does an Advance Health Care Directive Work?

You sign a document in which you designate another individual, called your agent or your attorney-in-fact, to make health care decisions for you. In the document you may describe your wishes concerning such matters as life sustaining treatment and other health care issues and give instructions concerning organ donation, disposition of remains and your funeral. Your signature is either witnessed by two persons, or notarized. If you are not able to make health care decisions your agent may present the document to your health care provider and your agent may begin making decisions on your behalf.

What Types of Health Care Decisions Will My Agent Be Able to Make for Me?

You can be very specific and describe in precise detail the types of medical and other health care decisions your agent may make for you. However, the document generally provides a guideline only as to what types of decisions that you wish your agent to make for you. Therefore, it is important that you discuss your wishes with your agent before anything happens to you.

If you do not provide specific restrictions on your agent's decision making power your agent may make all health care decisions for you and all decisions regarding your personal care. Specifically, your agent will have the right to:

  1. Consent or refuse consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition.
  2. Select or disapprove health care providers and institutions.
  3. Approve or disapprove diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication.
  4. Direct the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  5. Make anatomical gifts, authorize an autopsy, and direct disposition of remains.
  6. Make personal care decisions, including determining where you will live, providing meals, hiring household employees, providing transportation, handling mail, and arranging recreation and entertainment for you.

Can I Change or Revoke My Advance Health Care Directive?

Yes. As long as you are competent you can change the document at any time. You can name different agents or change any of the instructions in your document.

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