Advance directives for health care are legal documents that enable you to plan for and communicate your end-of-life decisions. Should you become unconscious or too ill to write or speak, they give you a voice in your medical treatment. Without advance directives, these critical decisions could be made by people—including doctors, judges, and family members—with whom you’ve never shared your wishes.
There are two basic documents that allow you to write out your wishes for medical care, both grouped under the broad heading of health-care directives. It's wise to prepare both.
Advance directives for health care, which can be called by several names in different states, are legally valid throughout the United States. In some states, the living will and durable power of attorney for health care are combined into one document. Because laws governing advance directives vary from state to state, it's important to complete and sign advance directives that comply with your state's laws.
II. Advance Directives for Health Care
Resources and ToolsLegally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you organize important household papers and begin preparing your estate plan.