Advance Directive for Healthcare
Designating an Agent to Act on Your Behalf
It’s difficult to predict what will happen to us in the future, but there are common medical dilemmas many people and their loved ones wind up facing after an accident, illness, or injury, or when aging sets in. An Advance Directive for Health Care is meant to address those issues for you by pre-planning the decisions you want made regarding your medical care in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself if and when that time comes. An Advance Directive for Healthcare names an agent to act on your behalf and provides your agent with advice regarding your preferences to medical treatments during certain medical situations. It also contains a “Living Will,” which directs whether or not you want life-sustaining procedures to be withheld or withdrawn in the event you become incapacitated due to a terminal illness or lapse into a state of permanent unconsciousness. An Advance Directive for Health Care only allows your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf when you lack the capacity to do so for yourself. Your medical providers are required to follow the instructions you set forth in your Advance Directive.
When creating your Advance Directive for Health Care, you’ll be advised to select an initial health care agent as well as successor health care agents in the event that your initial agent is no longer willing or able to act as your agent.
An Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to
- Designate someone to make health care decisions for you
- Decide what kind of medical care you would want under specific circumstances
- Choose the types of treatments you want for end of life care
- Pre-select a guardian for yourself, should you need one
The Advance Directive was adopted in Georgia in July 2007. The law essentially combined the prior Living Will and prior Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care into the Advance Directive for Health Care. Considering these changes and the “three year” rule of thumb for reviewing and updating estate-planning documents, everyone should now have a fresh Advance Directive for Health Care (post-July, 2007).