What is an Advance Directive for Healthcare?
If you are age 18+ you need an Advance Directive for Healthcare. An Advance Directive for Healthcare lets you appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable. It also allows you to make elections about:
- life support
- organ donation
- body donation
- final disposition of your body
- end of life medical treatment
- an appointed guardian should you need one
Questions about end of life medical care are very important today because of the ability of medical technology to prolong life. In order to control your medical treatment in such a situation you must record your preferences in advance. By signing an Advance Directive, you can ensure that your wishes are met even if you are unable to communicate them.
1. What does Georgia law say about Advance Directives?
In 2007, the Georgia legislature adopted a new form document called the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. The Georgia Advance Directive replaced the Georgia laws on Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Healthcare. The newer form combines the Living Will and Power of Attorney into one document.
2. Can I Make Changes to My Advance Directive for Healthcare?
Absolutely. You can change or revoke your documents at any time. If you make changes to your Advance Directive, make sure that you destroy old copies and provide the new version to your family.
3. Will Medical Professionals Honor an Advance Directive in an emergency?
It is usually difficult to determine the chances of survival during an emergency situation or to determine the outlook for recovery. Until the outlook for recovery is clear, doctors will us what treatments they feel are appropriate. The Advanced Directive will be carried out after the initial emergency has passed dependant on your condition.
4. How long is my Advance Directive valid?
Technically, an Advance Directive does not expire, but encourage clinets to update them every 3 years. Updating your Advance Directive shows that you have given the matter a great deal of thought and prevents any disputes among family members faced with a ten or fifteen year old document that might no longer reflect what you have told them are your wishes.
5. If I’m pregnant, are there limitations on carrying out the instructions in my Advance Directive?
Yes. The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare contains a section for you to indicate what your wishes are with respect to application of the Advance Directive if you are pregnant and the fetus is not viable. If the fetus is viable, the Advance Directive will not be honored until after the baby is delivered.
6. After I complete an Advance Directive, where should I keep it?
Copies of an Advance Directive are in all respects the equivalent of the original. Therefore, you could distribute copies to all of your family members and store the original in a safe place. You could also consider storing your Advance Directive with an online document storage service like DocuBank. DocuBank stores your documents and sends you a card to carry with you. The card has a 1-800 number on the front of it and the person requesting your Advance Directive can simply call that number and have the Advance Directive faxed in to them. This gives you and your family access to your documents 24/7 anywhere in the world you may be.
7. Will my Georgia Advance Directive be honored if I am admitted for treatment in a different state?
The law on advance directives differs from state to state, so a Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare may or may not be valid in a different state. Because an Advance Directive is an expression of your wishes about medical care, it will influence that care no matter where you are admitted. However, if you spend a great deal of time in more than one state, you may consider signing an Advance Directive that meets all requirements of both states.