What is an advance healthcare directive?

An advance healthcare directive is also called a living will. This important document allows you to specify your wishes about medical treatment at the end of your life or in the event you are unable to make decisions.

Advance healthcare directives are commonly used in the following scenarios:

  • Terminal illness
  • Permanent coma
  • Persistent vegetative state
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Other medical illnesses which impact mental capacity

Before the directive becomes effective for decision-making, your physicians must agree that you are unable to make decisions about your medical care. You also need to be in the medical condition that your state’s law requires, usually either with a terminal illness or in a permanent state of unconsciousness. Once these requirements are met, the healthcare providers working on your care will tailor your treatment to match your wishes stated in the document.

Advance healthcare directives are legal throughout the U.S. and you do not need a lawyer to create one. Your advance healthcare directive becomes legal as soon as you sign it (with the required witnesses).

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