Advance directives are becoming one of the most important aspects of elder law in the United States. With the population of elderly increasing every year, their medical wishes have become the subject of great scrutiny and confusion. Advance directives allow individuals to determine in advance what type of medical treatment they wish to proceed with if unable to effectively communicate their wishes.

Are Advance Directives Known by Other Names?

Generally advance directives are known by two different identities. These include: 

  • Living Will - A living will is a document that allows a person that is living to make the medical decisions in case they should become incapacitated.
  • Durable Power of Attorney - A durable power of attorney is a document signed in the presence of a witness. This document usually names a person who has the legal authority to make medical decisions in your place.

Can My Advance Directive Be Cancelled?

An advance directive can be cancelled at any time. However, it is important that a person who creates an advance directive notify a person of its existence.

What Steps Should I Take after Creating an Advance Directive?

There are a variety of steps that a person who has created an advance directive should take after its creation. These include: 

  • Giving a copy to your physician.
  • Keeping a small card in your wallet indicating that an advance directive exists. This can help emergency medical physicians follow your wishes.
  • Make sure your advance directive is located in a safe location.

Should I Consult an Attorney about Advance Directives?

Creating legally binding advance directive can be very difficult. An experienced wills and trusts attorney can help you to understand advance directives. A wills and trust attorney can also help you comply with applicable state laws regarding medical decisions.