A legal document that states a person’s wishes about receiving medical care if that person is no longer able to make medical decisions because of a serious illness or injury. Your healthcare agent, doctors, and first responders will refer to your advance directives if you’re incapacitated.

Federal law requires that every hospital must have forms on hand for advance care planning. Your local hospital must also communicate details on the ever-changing regulations for advance directives to patients in their service area.

The most common Advance Directives are:

1. Living Will – A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.

2. Medical Power of Attorney (POA) – Powers of attorney are all about designating power to one particular person about your financial decisions. It’s not intended for healthcare provisions and, instead, you would use health care proxies for medical contingencies.

3. Advance Healthcare Directive – The combination of a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney (POA). Many people choose to pair a living will with a durable medical POA to make sure their future healthcare decisions are handled according to their wishes and by someone they trust.

Contact your legal counsel and medical professional for more details.