Coping / Future Planning / Document Advance Medical Directives

Document Advance Medical Directives

An Advance Directive is a series of legal documents that states the type of medical care you would like to receive, or who you may want to speak on your behalf, if you lack the capacity to do so during a medical emergency.

Typically, these types of documents are created by people who are nearing end-of-life, but it's best that all adults, even young adults create them in order to relieve the burden of decision making on others in case something should happen.

These documents typically include, but are not limited to:

Organ Donation Preference

  • After a death, certain organs can be donated to those in need by

  • They can be donated by all people of all ages and varied medical history

  • To donate, register with your state, which adds your name to a database which will be reviewed by medical professional in the event of a death

  • View the links below to sign up to become an organ donor

Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

  • During a health emergency, medical professionals may help a patient whose heart has stopped or who has stopped breathing

  • A DNR is a directive that tells these professionals to not intervene in case of emergency

  • Once this document is drafted by an attorney, the order is added to a medical chart

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

  • Written by a physician, a POLST documents an agreed to end-of-life care plan

  • Its goal is to easily convey to any healthcare professional what medical treatment to carry out no matter the circumstance

  • These documents must be signed by both physicians and patients and are typically provided by the patient's healthcare provider

Durable Power of Attorney (DPA)

  • Also known as Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

  • These documents identify a trusted person to make any and all healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so yourself

  • Because these documents apply to all medical decisions, it is broader than a Living Will, which only applies to specific situations and medical treatments

Living Will

  • A specific type of Advance Directive, this legal document states the specific type of medical treatment you would and would not like to recieve if you lack the capacity to do so

  • However, it can only address the exact conditions specified in the document

While these documents do not need to be complicated, or created using difficult legal jargon, the laws that govern these documents differ in each state, and so it's important to consult with an Estate Attorney before completing them.

Since the legal and medical consequences are so grave, it's best to get an attorney and a medical professional to review that the directives are understood exactly as intended.

Note: you can change an Advance Directive at any time, so long as it is signed and notarized again in accordance with state law; notify appropriate family members, doctors and attorneys of the change.