Living Will, Advanced Healthcare Directives, Proxy Directives (Notary Public Services)
Updated: Nov 28
As a Notary Public, I frequently see Living Wills, Advanced Healthcare Directives, and Proxy directives included with a Last Will and testament. It is important that people and their loved ones understand exactly what they are.
An advanced medical directive, also known as a living will, is a legal document that allows you to make decisions about your medical care in advance, in case you are ever unable to do so yourself. This can be especially important if you have a serious illness or injury that could leave you incapacitated.
**I am not an attorney licensed to practice law and may not give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matter or accept fees for legal advice. The information contained below is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.**
Advanced healthcare directives are legal documents that you complete on your own that will ensure your desires for your medical treatment are known should you become temporarily or permanently unable to express them yourself. These directives are guidelines that your physicians will do their best to adhere to. However, there may be some circumstances that physicians may not be able to and those situations should be discussed with your physicians and families.
It is important to talk to your family and friends about your wishes for medical care, even if you do not yet have an advanced medical directive. This will help them to understand your wishes and make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
A living will is an instructional directive. This is a document that you will use to let your family and physicians know about the situations in which you want or do not want to have life-sustaining measures take place if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. This document is where you would include your beliefs and values and any other treatment preferences. It is important to include these as this will help guide the physicians to make appropriate decisions on your healthcare in situations that were not specifically covered by your directive.
Proxy directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare This document is what you would use to appoint someone and/or an alternate to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself. This person would be your “healthcare representative.” It is important to discuss your healthcare desires with the person or persons you appoint. If you have a healthcare directive, you should share this information with your appointed healthcare representative. If they are unable to determine what they believe you would want, they will base their decisions on what they think would be in your best interest.
The best practice is to consult with an attorney to make sure that your directives follow the state law that you are in. However, there are kits on Amazon to do them yourself. There are also useful websites such as Power of Attorney where you can find free versions according to your state.
Please check your individual state’s government website for more information.