Advance Care Directive

An advance care directive is a legal document that expresses a person's healthcare preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care in the event they become unable to communicate or make decisions for themselves.

Advance care directives provide guidance to healthcare professionals, family members, and Healthcare Agents so they can make medical decisions on behalf of the person. They reduce uncertainty and potential conflict among family members and confusion among healthcare professionals.

It can include organ donation preferences, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLSDT), and Durable Power of Attorney.

Creating an advance care directive is an important step in the Estate Planning process to ensure that one's healthcare choices are honored. It's helpful to consult with an Estate Attorney or use state-specific forms when creating an advance care plan to ensure that it complies with state standards.

Once complete, it's important to discuss the contents of the directive with family members and healthcare providers to ensure that everyone is aware.

Key components of an advance care directive typically include:

Healthcare Proxy or Agent: Individuals may designate a trusted person known as a Healthcare Agent or Healthcare Proxy to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so.

Treatment Preferences: The directive outlines specific instructions about the types of medical treatments or interventions the individual wants or does not want in various medical situations. This can include preferences for resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, artificial nutrition and hydration, and more.

End-of-Life Care: Advance care directives often address end-of-life care decisions, including the use of pain management, Palliative Care, Hospice Care, and other comfort measures.

Organ and Tissue Donation: Individuals may express their willingness to donate organs and tissues for transplantation or medical research in their advance care plan.

Personal Values and Beliefs: Some directives include a section where individuals can articulate their values, beliefs, and general healthcare philosophies to provide context for their decision-making preferences.

Signature and Witness Requirements: To ensure its legal validity, the advance care directive must typically be signed by the individual in the presence of witnesses or Notarized, depending on state requirements.

Also known as an Advance Directive, Advance Care Plan and Advance Healthcare Directive.