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What exactly are Advance Directives?
There can be a lot of confusion surrounding Advance Directives, but they are actually very simple and easy to complete documents. They consist of:
- Durable Health Care Power of Attorney (Medical Power of Attorney)
- Durable Mental Health Power of Attorney
- Living Will (End of Life Care)
- Letter to My Agent
- Pre-Hospital Medical Directive (No Not Resuscitate)
How do I get them?
These documents are all available for free to print through the Arizona Attorney General’s office and can be found here. They can be completed independently and require either a witness or notary to your signature. If additional support and education is needed, an Elder Law Attorney can assist you in understanding and completing them and you can find one in your area by clicking here.
How important are they to complete?
Advance Directives are designed to ensure that your medical and end of life care wishes are carried out as you would want them. The importance of completion depends on the document and your life situation.
- Durable Health Care Power of Attorney- Assigns a 1st and 2nd representative to make health care decision on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself, either temporarily or permanently. Without this form Arizona State Law provide an order for assigning a surrogate decision maker and can be read about here. If no surrogate can be found the court may assign a fiduciary.
- Durable Mental Health Care Power of Attorney- Assigns a 1st and a 2nd representative to make mental health care decision on your behalf including admittance into a level 1 behavior health care setting. Without this form no surrogate can be assigned. Emergency guardianship must be obtained through the court system.
- Living Will- Designates your end of life care wishes for your power of attorney to follow. Without this form your health care power of attorney will need to make decisions regarding your health care without knowing your wishes.
- Letter to My Agent- Officially notifies the people you have identified as your representatives. This form is typically used when the representative were not present or able to participate in the completion of the above forms
- Pre-Hospital Medical Directive (No Not Resuscitate)- Used to designate that you no longer wish to have any life saving or sustaining treatment. It must be signed by the physician and printed on orange paper. Without it your will be considered a Full Code but your Health Care Power Of Attorney can make the decision for you to be a DNR.
More information on Advance Directives can be found here.
Article written by Rebecca Hampton, Lead Consultant for The Aging Advocate