Advance directives are legal documents prepared in advance to accomplish a task at a later date.
These documents can be instructions or permission granted for a specific usage such as life support or even financial issues. There are two types of advance directives. A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to name a (patient advocate) to make decisions on your behalf. A living will allow you to state your wishes in writing but does not specifically name a person to assume the role of advocate. Regardless of which one is used, the court system can still intervene and make a major decision if situations arise.
Most people who choose to prepare advance directives do so to remove any doubt of their wishes in the event of a situation where they may be deemed unable to make decisions.
Considerations of the advance directive would be who you would want to assume the responsibility for decision making. Important decisions could be about ventilators (and other life extending machines) resuscitation, surgery, feedings (tube, food, and water) and prescription drugs.
A Durable Power of Attorney for HealthCare is a legal document that allows you to name another adult (18 or over) to make your health decisions for you. Most people choose a family member, but often a trusted advisor is selected. If the end of life issues are in play, you may instruct your appointee to refuse any and all treatment and let you die. You would state this in writing that the person you select has the power to make that decision. The durable power of attorney only goes into effect once you are unable to make any decision yourself.
The power of attorney and the living will are both reversible. At anytime you may change your mind both as to treatments and who is the appointee. The only real component of either of these agreements is that at the time you execute the transactions you are considered a competent adult. This means that you are capable of choosing your own free will and without outside influence.
It is always best to seek legal advice when considering important decisions. Numerous sources exist to provide you with basic information about how these agreements work and how they may affect you and your heirs.