- You may ask, what are ADVs and why do I need them?
- Who signs my advanced directives?
If you have visited your doctor, hospital emergency room, or admitted to the hospital, these representatives may ask you:
- "Do you have an Advanced Directive in place?"
- "Do you have someone who can speak your desires and wishes if you cannot?"
You do not need to go to a lawyer to have your Advanced Directives drawn up, although you can pay the extra money to a lawyer if this is what you want to do. Most doctor offices and all hospitals have Advanced Directive forms. All you have to do is pick up an Advanced Directive package, read it and fill in the spaces. These spaces spell out your medical wishes under different circumstances. Your Advanced Directives are supposed to be legal and binding.
The most critical thing about these forms is that you must sign them in front of two to three different witnesses. These witnesses sign and date the paperwork after you sign and date. Two witnesses are all that is required. However, three witnesses are great.
The one stipulation on these forms is that if, for instance, I named my husband as my advocate, I was informed that my husband could not legally sign as a witness on that form. Your witnesses can be family members, friends, or strangers who are not going to be involved with your Advanced Directive.
What is an Advanced Directive?
An Advanced Directive for medical is not directives for financial issues. Your medical Advance Directives only cover medical issues and decisions for you.
In the event you are in a situation where you cannot make your medical decisions known, there should be one person who can make medical decisions for you but, only according to your wishes as stated in your Advanced Directives.
You should have one or two more people who can make these decisions for you if the first person you name is not available and cannot state your wishes. For example, you may become unconscious, are in surgery under anesthesia, or heavily sedated, and the doctor needs to know your preferences. The responsibility of these named people is to carry out your wishes for medical interventions.
The named person(s) reads through your Advanced Directives to become familiar with your wishes for medical care and guide and direct the doctors taking care of you.
Why are advanced directives so vital?
Advanced Directives are only relevant to you if you do not want strangers making healthcare decisions for you. If you do not care who makes these life and death decisions for you then, Advanced Directives are probably not that important to you.
A Living Will
Advanced Directives are not a will or a Living Will. Advanced Directives are something entirely different from a will. Contact your attorney for more in-depth information in regards to having a will drawn up if this is what you want or need.
Who Gets Copies of Your Advanced Directives
Never give up your original Advanced Directives to anyone! I have had the hospital ask for my original copy, and I refuse. I hand them copies and tell them this is good enough; no one gets my original Advanced Directive forms. I may show them my original forms so they can compare them with my copies but then I want them back, as they do not leave my presence. The original paperwork for Advanced Directives is yours to keep under lock and key.
Once you complete all forms of your Advanced Directives, make sure the following people get copies.
- You keep your original paperwork
- The hospital of your choice
- Your first, second, and third (optional) advocate
- Your primary doctor and any other doctors you see on a routine basis
- Your spouse and your children if you desire
Everyone should have Advanced Directives as this set of paperwork saves your family and friends a lot of heartaches, confusion, and unpopular decisions that no one is eager to make for a loved one.
I was a nurse for over 40 years, and I had the privilege and opportunity on many occasions to explain ADVs to my patients and their family members.
I obtained ADV forms from my local hospital, and my husband and I both have outlined our medical choices and decisions for our appointed advocates if and when the time comes that we cannot make those decisions known to our doctors.
*I am not a lawyer or affiliated with any law firm. I do not give out legal advice to anyone. I encourage everyone to see their attorney when and if the need arises and they have any legal questions, including Advanced Directives.