An important part of any estate plan, an Advance Directive allows you to make important end-of-life decisions about your personal healthcare. This is crucial as, at some point, such as in the event you fall into a coma or are otherwise incapacitated, you may not be able to verbalize these wishes. An Advance Directive is a way to put those on wishes on record for your family, your heirs, and your health care provider.
Use an Advance Directive if:
- You want to spell out your health care wishes.
- You want a complete estate plan.
- You have recently been diagnosed with a serious disease.
- You have strong convictions about life support or other health care choices.
Other names for Advance Directive
Living Will, Advance Healthcare Directive, Medical Directive, Advance Medical Directive, Advance Health Care Directive
Please note that Rocket Lawyer’s Advance Directive is the same form as our Living Will.
Advance Directive Purpose:
In general, an Advance Directive expresses specific instructions you have regarding your healthcare. It also enables you to designate another person (“Agent”) to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Advance Directive requirements and scope vary state-by-state. Rocket Lawyer easily provides you with the correct form to use for the state you live in.
An Advance Directive does not address anything related to your finances. If you want to give authority to someone to make decisions regarding your finances, you will need Rocket Lawyer’s Power of Attorney form.
Advance Directive Scope:
Unless limited, an Advance Directive gives your Agent very broad authority to make all healthcare decisions for you including:
- Consenting or refusing to consent to any care, treatment, service or procedure to maintain, diagnose or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition;
- Selecting or discharging healthcare providers or institutions;
- Approving or disapproving diagnostic tests, surgical procedures and programs of medication;
- Directing the provision, withholding or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of healthcare including pulmonary resuscitation;
- Making anatomical gifts, authorizing an autopsy and directing disposition of remains.
Limiting your Agent’s authority to make healthcare decisions for you:
In your Advance Directive you may limit your Agent’s authority to make decisions for you by stating your wishes. The following are some specific examples of limitations:
- If you do not want your life prolonged under all circumstances, our Advance Directive helps guide you in making this very important decision by giving you some choices of specific situations in which you would not want your life to be prolonged, such as,
- If you have an irreversible condition and death will occur soon;
- If you are permanently unconscious; or
- If the risks of treatment outweigh the benefits.
- If you do not want to receive food and fluids artificially regardless of your condition, you may specify this limitation.
- If you wish, you may also state under what circumstances you do not want treatment to alleviate pain or discomfort.
- You may also convey your instructions regarding organ or tissue donations including not wanting donation for any purposes or for what purposes you would want your organs or tissues to be donated.
State your preferences:
In your Advance Directive you may state any of your preferences including where you want to receive your treatment, your values and any other special instructions to your Agent.
When an Advance Directive becomes effective:
You may choose to have your Advance Directive become effective immediately (even if you are still capable of making your own healthcare decisions) or to have your Advance Directive only become effective when you are incapable of making healthcare decisions for yourself (this is the more common scenario).
Revoking Advance Directive:
You may revoke your Advance Directive at any time by using Rocket Lawyer’s Healthcare Power of Attorney—Revocation.
Who to appoint as your Advance Directive Agent:
Deciding who to appoint as your Agent in your Advance Directive is not always easy. Consider appointing someone who you trust, who lives near you and who is willing and able to take on this responsibility. You will want someone who actually has the time and energy to be available to make these decisions.
It is important for you discuss the specifics of your Advance Directive with the person you want to appoint as your Agent so that they understand your wishes and can tell you whether they are willing to take on this very important role for you.
It is also a good idea to appoint an Alternative Agent in your Advance Directive in case your first Agent is unwilling or unable to act on your behalf.
Who to give copies of your Advance Directive to:
You should give copies of your Advance Directive to your Agent, your family members, your physician and any healthcare providers or institutions. Keep the original signed and date Advance Directive with your other important papers. It’s also a good idea to make a note on the Advance Directive itself who you gave copies to in case you need to modify or revoke your Advance Directive.
Other estate planning documents:
An Advance Directive is just part of your estate plan. Here are some other documents you might need:
If you have any questions about what’s right for you, we can connect you with a lawyer for quick answers or visit Rocket Lawyer's own Guide to Estate Planning to learn more about Advanced Directives and other estate planning essentials.