What to Know About an Advance Directive

As you grow older, you hear all about the importance of creating a will or a trust, and estate planning. The sooner you begin planning the better. There is a lot to know when it comes to estate planning, but one thing you may never think about is an advance directive.

An advance directive is just another part of estate planning that helps your loved ones plan for your future and know what your wishes are. This legal document is used to state the medical care you want if you become unable to make the decision yourself. In an advance directive, you can decide which treatments you would want, making the important decisions so your family doesn’t have to.


As a part of estate planning, an advance directive is an important thing to consider before anything actually happens. We know that there is a lot to know when it comes to estate planning and that it can all be confusing, that is why Susan Gwinn, Attorney At Law is here to help. Susan Gwinn is knowledgeable in estate planning here in Ohio, and she can make sure you have all the information you need to successfully create your plan. This includes everything from writing a trust to making the decisions for your advance directive.

Planning your advance directive may not be a fun task, but it is important and can help you and your family know what to do if anything ever happens. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about advance directives. Read on to learn more and start planning now.

What is an Advance Directive?

As we mentioned above, an advance directive is used to plan and make decisions about your medical care when you are no longer about to make those decisions yourself. Advance directives are made up of a living will and a health care (medical) power of attorney. The living will is used to describe what your wishes are for future medical care. The medical power of attorney is chosen by you and is a person you trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you ever become unable to speak for yourself.


A Living Will

A living will is different than the will we are all familiar with. Rather than leaving property to family member, a living will is used to make decisions on your end-of-life medical care. This living will can help your family know what to do and what medical treatments you do and don’t want if they ever have to make that decision for you. Leaving your family with these difficult decisions is not fair for them and may end up in you receiving treatments you never wanted, a living will can help eliminate that.

Living wills can determine everything from whether or not you want to be resuscitated to surgeries. The more detail you put in your living will, the easier it will be for your family to know how to proceed if you ever are unable to make these decisions yourself. A living will can include decisions on the following treatments and medical care services:

  • Life-prolonging medical care
  • The use of feeding tubes
  • Palliative care
  • DNR orders and POLST forms

Life-prolonging medical care includes blood and blood product transfusions, CPR, diagnostic tests, dialysis, administration of drugs, the use of a respirator, and surgery. All of these procedures can be used to save your life depending on the situation, and a living will can determine whether or not you receive these procedures. You can also decide whether you want to donate your organs, before and after death, and whether you want to be kept on life-support while organs are being harvested.

Once you make these decisions, your family will have an easier time making these important decisions for you and make sure your medical care desires are met. While this may seem like that last thing you want to worry about, it will become more and more important as the situation becomes more real, so don’t wait to make your living will plans.

Medical Power of Attorney

While making your advance directive, you will also have to choose a medical power of attorney. This is a person that you trust to make important medical decisions for you, temporarily or permanently, if you ever become unable to make those decisions yourself. This document will only go into effect after a physician declares that you are unable to make medical decisions yourself.

A health care power of attorney will be able to make several different decisions for you. The can decision the medical treatments you receive, whether or not to put you on life-support, choices about pain management, where you receive your care, as well as other decisions. This is why it is important to choose someone you trust to be your medical power of attorney. But there are some limitations to who you choose.


In Ohio, your medical power of attorney cannot be:

  • Your doctor
  • An employee or agent of your doctor or health care facility, unless they are related to you or a member or your religious order (if you both are a monk, nun, priest, etc.)
  • An administrator of a nursing home in which you receive care.

Your medical power of attorney can be a family member, a close friend, or any other person you trust. But you should make sure you trust them to make these important decisions for you and are willing to follow your wishes.

These two components make an advance directive and allow you to help yourself and your loved ones. Advance directives are not for certain people, they do not benefit anyone more than others. Everyone should create an advance directive as they do their estate planning. Anyone who is 18 years or older and of sound mind can create an advance directive. This will help your family know how you want to live the rest of your life if anything ever happens. They will know what your wishes are and how to proceed. They will understand what you want and be able to get your the medical treatment you want.

Create an Advance Directive Today

Don’t wait until something happens to think about your advance directive. Start working on your advance directive and other estate planning now, before it is too late. If you need any additional information and would like legal help with your estate planning, contact Susan Gwinn today. Susan provides estate planning services throughout southeastern Ohio, including in the counties of Athens, Hocking, Jackson, Meigs, and Vinton.