Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to write down your preferences about your future medical care in the event you are unable to express your medical wishes. Advance Directives can provide clear guidance to health care providers and loved ones. It is important to let your physician and loved ones know your wishes for treatment should you ever be unable to express them and have the latest copy of your advance directive on file. Most health facilities assume you want all available medical treatment, including life-sustaining care, unless you direct otherwise.
There are two types of Advance Directives: (1) Health Care Directive (also known as Living Will) and (2) Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) offers advance directives—both the health care directive and the durable power of attorney for health care—to physicians and patients to help guide decision-making at the end of life.
Once you’ve filled out your Advance Directives:
- Provide copies of your Advance Directives to your healthcare agent and to your doctors so they can put them in your medical record
- It is a good idea to review these documents when you have substantial health changes because preferences can change.
- You can always complete new Advance Directives to reflect your current wishes. Just make sure to let your healthcare agent and doctors know and void any previous Advance Directives.