An “advance healthcare directive” or “advance directive” is a kind of legal document that tells the doctor your wishes about your healthcare.
Advance directives can be general, with very few directions about your care. The directive may just name a substitute person (proxy) to make these decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Or it may include instructions for the chosen proxy.
Advance directives can also be very detailed and can clearly outline the different types of life-sustaining treatments you would accept or refuse in certain situations. Some types of advance directives are limited to certain situations, like the living will, organ or tissue donation, or your wishes not to be revived (resuscitated) if your heart or breathing stops.
No matter which kind you use, no one will be able to control your money or other property based on your advance directive. It may also help to know that you can also change or revoke (take back) these directives at any time.
An important part of any estate plan, an advance directive allows you to make important end-of-life decisions about your personal healthcare. This is crucial as, at some point, such as in the event you fall into a coma or are otherwise incapacitated, you may not be able to verbalize these wishes. An advance directive is a way to put those wishes on record for your family, your heirs and your healthcare provider.
Use an advance directive if:
- You want to spell out your healthcare wishes.
- You want a complete estate plan.
- You have recently been diagnosed with a serious disease.
- You have strong convictions about life support or other healthcare choices.
For assistance with advance directives, you may:
- Talk to your doctor.
- Talk with an attorney.
- Visit the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging at http://aging.sc.gov/legal/pages/advancedirectives.aspx. You can view and print an Advance Directive Brochure from this site.
- View the South Carolina legislature’s approved forms for a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. The Living Will Form that the legislature approved is called a Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death. You may get these forms from:
- Your local Area Agency on Aging. You can find your local Area Agency on Aging at http://aging.sc.gov/contact/Pages/AAA.aspx.
- The Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging. Visit http://aging.sc.gov/legal/Pages/LivingWillAndPowerOfAttorney.aspx. You can also call them at 1-800-868-9095 or 803-734-9900.
- Contact 1-888-5wishes (594-7437) to receive the Five Wishes Form, which is a document that meets the legal requirements for an advance directive.
If your directives are not being followed, do any of the following:
- Talk to your doctor.
- Call Member Services at 1-866-433-6041 (TTY: 711). A representative will help you file your complaint with the State Survey and Certification Agency.