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Advance Directives

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a written or oral statement that is made and witnessed in advance of serious illness or injury describing your wishes with regard to medical decisions.  An advance directive allows you to state your choices about healthcare or to name someone to make those choices for you should you become unable to make decisions about your medical treatment or care.

What is a Living Will?


A living will generally describe the type of medical care you want or do not want if you are unable to make your own decisions.  It is called a Living Will because it takes effect while you are still living.  You may wish to speak to an attorney or physician to be certain you have completed the living will in a way that your wishes will be understood.


What is a Healthcare Surrogate Designation?

A "healthcare surrogate designation" is a signed, dated, and witnessed document naming another person such as a spouse, child, or close friend as your agent to make medical decisions for you should you become unable to make them for yourself.  This designation is often included in the Living Will.


You may wish to name a second person as an alternate, should your first choice for healthcare surrogate not be available.  Be sure, however, to notify these persons that you have named them as healthcare surrogates, and inform them of your wishes.  It is also a good idea to give them, as well as your physician and attorney, a copy of both your living will and the healthcare surrogate designation documents.

Do I have to complete an Advance Directive under (state) law?


No, there is no legal requirement to complete an advance directive.  However, if you have not completed an advance directive or designated a healthcare surrogate, healthcare decisions may be made for you by a court-appointed guardian, your spouse, your adult child, your parent, your adult sibling, an adult relative, or a close friend, in that order.


What if I change my mind after I have completed a Living Will and/or designated a Healthcare Surrogate?


You can change or cancel these documents at any time, either orally, or in writing.  

What should I do with my Advance Directive?


Make sure that someone, such as your physician, lawyer, or family member knows that you have an advance directive and where it is located.


If you have designated a healthcare surrogate, give that person a copy of the original.


Give your physician a copy of your medical file.


Keep a copy of your advance directive in a place where it can be found easily.


Keep a card or note in your wallet or purse that states that you have an advance directive and where it is located.


If you change your advance directive, make sure your physician, lawyer, and/or a family member has the latest copy.


  1. Complaint records must include the name, address, telephone number, and health insurance claim number of the beneficiary, a summary of the complaint, and any actions taken to resolve it.

  2. A supplier must agree to furnish CMS (formerly HCFA) any information required by the Medicare statute and implementing regulations.

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