Advanced directives and living wills are estate planning methods to provide legally binding instructions for your medical care (ongoing or end-of-life) when you are incapacitated and cannot make your own decisions. Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they often perform slightly different functions as described here.
The descriptions are provided here for clarity. However, in Georgia, are not required to be executed separately. An advance health care directive can be crafted that combines a health care power of attorney, a living will and a HIPPA consent form.
Advanced Directives: Also called advance healthcare directives, personal directives, medical directives or advance decisions, these documents are increasingly important as we age—but important at all times.
If you become unable to provide informed decisions due to terminal illness, dementia, a critical injury or other incapacitation, advanced directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers. You can receive the medical care you want, and your family is not required to make difficult decisions on your behalf. (Note that advanced directives can also be handled through powers of attorney (durable power of attorney for health care, aka a health care proxy). For more on these documents, see our Power of Attorney page.)
Living Wills: Living wills are written, legally binding documents that describe the medical treatments you consider acceptable or want to avoid to keep you alive, such as a feeding tube, dialysis or mechanical ventilation (a breathing tube or ventilator). Living wills can also cover infection treatment, pain management or other palliative care, organ or body donation and other end-stage decisions.
Many people—especially young, healthy individuals—never consider making a living will until they are asked to make painful decisions for someone else. Because even a minor accident or infection can result in a terminal condition, everyone should have a living will.
Contact Us for a Free Initial Phone Consultation
Decatur, GA attorney Robert Turner of Turner Law can quickly and proficiently craft your advanced healthcare directive or living will, or review your current documents to ensure they are legally binding. For a complimentary consultation with an expert, call phone number(404) 377-6941 or fill out the contact form on this Web site.