What are Advance Directives?

What are Advance Directives?

Advanced Directives, also known as living wills, cover a person’s wishes for end-of-life care. These directives let individuals make future essential decisions for care without outside influence. Advanced Directives make sure you get the medical care you want when you can’t speak for yourself.


A Living Will or Advanced Directive puts in writing the wishes for your medical treatment for end-of-life. The advance directives can make all your future health decisions in case of your incapacitation. Pre-planning your end-of-life directives helps prevent disagreements, decision-making burdens, and unnecessary suffering.

For the living will to be enacted, two physicians must certify a person is unable to make their own medical decisions. Advanced Directives are legally valid once signed in front of witnesses. A physician must evaluate the person’s condition before implementing healthcare directives. Emergency medical technicians cannot honor the will.


Advanced care planning is about the medical decisions needed, planning those decisions ahead of time, and advising your family and healthcare providers about your preferences. These are the decisions you need to add to the advance directives of your living will. It is a way to express your wishes related to end-of-life care.

Some decisions that might become relevant if the use of emergency treatments become necessary to keep you alive:

  • Breathing machines
  • Dialysis
  • Tube feeding
  • IV or intravenous fluids
  • CPR
  • Resuscitation

Another consideration for end-of-life care is comfort care. Comfort care can include limited medical testing, Desired medications and emotional and spiritual counseling.


Whoever you appoint as your medical power of attorney must have the ability to push aside emotions and ask the difficult questions. Asking challenging questions about medical options and procedures is necessary to ensure the end-of-life whishes are met. Open communication with your power of attorney helps clarify your end-of-life wishes.

When planning your directives, consider what treatment you want if you have a medical emergency. Talk with your doctor about any health conditions influencing your future health. Your doctor can help you understand potential medical needs and options before adding them to your advanced directives.

When considering treatment decisions, personal values play a central part in mapping out your directives. Questions like do you prefer quantity or quality of life? If an illness leaves you paralyzed or permanently comatose, do you want to be on a ventilator? These are all tough questions that need to be answered.

Always periodically review a living will and keep it updated as your end-of-care wishes may change.

If you need help with your healthcare and advance directives, reach out through our contact form or call us at 405.759.0678.

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