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An advance medical directive is a written document that names an agent or agents to make health care decisions for him or her in the event that they are incapable of making an informed decision. The document can also include what’s called a “living will,” which states what kinds of treatment you would want or would not want for life-prolonging treatment if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition and are unable to express your own wishes. Everyone should have an advance medical directive, no matter their age or health. The advance medical directive helps to plan for uncertainty in the future, such as an illness or car accident. Of course, the document does not take away your ability to act. You can still make health care decisions for yourself until it is determined you cannot make decisions. The document states your choices for health care or names someone to make those choices for you if you are unable to make decisions about your medical treatment. It is also a good idea to update who you name as agent in the event of a separation or divorce. There is no automatic revocation of the advance medical directive upon separation or divorce.

Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire

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