An Advance Directive (Living Will) is a statement about the medical care you wish to receive at the end of life. It only takes effect when you are unable to communicate your wishes due to illness, dementia or incompetence. You can indicate your treatment preferences on a spectrum from wanting all measures taken to sustain your life, regardless of your condition, to wanting no extraordinary measures taken if there is no reasonable hope of regaining a reasonable quality of life. Make sure that your physician will not have difficulty carrying out your wishes and that this form is with you at all times. This is a legal document that needs to be signed and witnessed while you are still competent. You do not need an attorney to complete this form.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a person appointed by you authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable. If you have completed an Advance Directive, it can be used to guide this person. Since the person you appoint is free to go against your wishes, make sure you choose this person carefully; someone who you believe will do what you want and not act in their own interests.
A state-specific directive from Caring Connections