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Life care planning is very important for those of all ages, but especially important for seniors. Advance Directives are forms that assign someone you trust as your representative to make important decisions on your behalf and ensure your wishes are followed if you are unable make decisions for yourself. Having these documents in place can greatly reduce stress on yourself and your family in the case of a medical emergency. These documents can only be completed by someone who is of sound mind and able to make their own decisions. They cannot be completed on behalf of someone else.


Durable Health Care Power of Attorney

What Is It?

The Durable Health Care Power of Attorney gives authority to the representative to make medical decisions if the person is unable to give consent. These situations could be temporary or permanent and authority could fluctuate between the person and their representative. Powers given include the ability to consent for health care providers, treatments, hospital admissions, and procedures, access to medical records, and the ability to discuss Private Medical Information (PMI) with necessary parties. It does not include the ability for the representative to have the person admitted into a level 1 behavior health facility.

How Do I Get It?

This document needs to either be notarized or signed by someone who is not a direct health care provider or relative by blood or marriage and is valid from that point on, or until a new document is drafted. This document can exist alone, in combination with a Durable Mental Health Power of Attorney or Living will, or inside a living trust. This document can be completed with or without an attorney is available on the Arizona Attorney General’s website and can be found here.

What if I don’t have it?

In the absence of a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney the state of Arizona will elect a surrogate on your behalf in the below order. If no one is able to be identified or are willing to act as the surrogate a count appointed guardian may be assigned.

  • Your spouse
  • Your adult children (general consensus of those able to be contacted)
  • Your parents
  • Your adult siblings
  • Your adult grandchildren
  • Your close friends

Durable Mental Health Power of Attorney

What is it?

A Durable Mental Health Power of Attorney gives authority to the representative to make decision about the person’s mental health. It can be enacted by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist in the event the person is unable to give consent. It gives the representative the ability to consent to mental health treatment including admission into a level 1 behavior health unit, consent to the administration of medications, and to have access to medical records regarding mental health.

How Do I Get It?

This document needs to either be notarized or signed by someone who is not a direct health care provider or relative by blood or marriage and is valid from that point on, or until a new document is drafted. This document can exist alone, in combination with a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney, or inside a living trust. This document can be completed with or without an attorney is available on the Arizona Attorney General’s website and can be found here.

What If I Don’t Have It?

In the absence of a Durable Mental Health Power of Attorney emergency guardianship will have to be sough if admission into a level one behavior health facility is needed. Even those without a history of mental illness should complete this document, as medications conflicts and Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may cause unexpected behavior issues.


Durable Financial Power of Attorney

What Is It?

Durable Financial Power of Attorney gives authority to the representative to manage finances in the case a person is unable to give consent. Powers include the ability to spend and receive money, buy or sell property, invest money, file and pay taxes, buy and sell insurance, and other financial duties.

How Do I Get It?

This form is not available through the Attorney General’s office and typically requires an attorney to access and complete. This document can exist alone or inside a living trust.

What If I Don’t Have It?

In the absence of this document court proceedings may be necessary to assign a trustee or fiduciary to make financial decisions when a person becomes incapacitated.


Living Will

What Is It?

The Living Will is used to clearly state a person’s health care wishes if they were ever in a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state, or irreversible coma. It covers the types of care a person desires including comfort care, treatment until the condition is reasonably know, or direction to prolong life.

How Do I Get It?

This document needs to either be notarized or signed by someone who is not a direct health care provider or relative by blood or marriage and is valid from that point on, or until a new document is drafted. This document can exist alone, in combination with a Durable Medical Power of Attorney or inside a living trust. This document can be completed with or without an attorney is available on the Arizona Attorney General’s website and can be found here.

What If I Don’t Have It?

In the absence of this document a person’s representative or guardian will make all health care related decisions in regards to end of life care.


Prehospital Medical Care Directive (Do Not Resuscitate)

What Is It?

A Prehospital Medical Care Directive, also knows as a Do Not Resuscitate, is a document that notifies emergency and medical personal not to resuscitate the person if coding. It is signed by the person and their doctor and is always printed on bright orange paper. All medical personal coming to a person’s home will know to look for this document on the front of a person’s fridge. Once a person has signed a Prehospital Medical Care Directive they are electing to no longer to have interventions designed to restart their heart or breathing. They will still be eligible to receive treatments designed to provide comfort and symptoms management. A Prehospital Medical Care Directive can be revoked at any time.

How Do I Get It?

This document can be completed in your physician’s office, by the Home Health or Hospice team, or obtained on the Arizona Attorney General’s website here.

What If I Don’t Have It?

In the absence of a Prehospital Medical Care Directive a person will be considered Full Code, which means all life sustaining and saving measure will be taken.

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