An advanced medical directive is a legal document you can execute to speak regarding your medical treatment wishes when you cannot communicate them yourself. This document also enables you to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are not able to do so.
In some states both of these functions are contained in the same legal document. In others, two separate documents are required that often go by the names health care power of attorney and living will.
The Savannah Morning News recently published "Myths and facts about advanced medical directives" that gives a good rundown regarding what people erroneously think these documents do versus what they really do, including:
People think living wills are only for when they want to tell doctors not to treat them. This is not true. The living will allows you to choose when to and when not to receive treatment.
If you name a power of attorney for healthcare decisions you do not lose your ability to make your own decisions as some people believe. The power of attorney’s power only kicks in if you are incapacitated.
Sometimes people think advanced medical directives are only for the elderly, but that is not true. Anyone can get in an accident or become ill and need someone else to temporarily make their health care decisions.
It is important for everyone to have advanced medical directives. Most estate planning attorneys will be happy to assist with creating one and draw up any other necessary estate documents.
Reference: Savannah Morning News (Feb. 22, 2016) "Myths and facts about advanced medical directives