What are Advance Directives?
A living will allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life.
Before your living will can guide medical decision-making two physicians must certify:
You are unable to make medical decisions,
You are in the medical condition specified in the state's living will law (such as "terminal illness" or "permanent unconsciousness"),
Other requirements also may apply, depending upon the state.
A medical power of attorney (or healthcare proxy) allows you to appoint a person you trust as your healthcare agent (or surrogate decision maker), who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Before a medical power of attorney goes into effect a person’s physician must conclude that they are unable to make their own medical decisions. In addition:
If a person regains the ability to make decisions, the agent cannot continue to act on the person's behalf.
Many states have additional requirements that apply only to decisions about life-sustaining medical treatments.
For example, before your agent can refuse a life-sustaining treatment on your behalf, a second physician may have to confirm your doctor's assessment that you are incapable of making treatment decisions.