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Advanced Care Planning FAQs

How will an advance directive help me and my family?

  • It lets you talk with your family, friends and doctor(s) about how you want to be treated if you become unable to speak for yourself.
  • Your family members will not have to guess what you want, and they won’t have to make hard choices without knowing your wishes.

I am a young person in good health. Do I really need to create a formal advance directive?

  • Advance directives are for all adults over 18.
  • We never know when an accident or serious illness will leave us incapable of expressing our own healthcare decisions.

Can I still make my own healthcare decisions once I’ve created an Advance Directive?

  • Yes.
  • Your Advance Directive becomes effective only when you’re not capable of expressing your own wishes.

Is a Medical Power of Attorney the same as a Power of Attorney?

  • No.
  • A medical power of attorney (MPOA) makes health care decisions.
  • A power of attorney (POA) makes financial and legal decisions and commitments.

Does my medical power of attorney have to be the same person as my regular power of attorney?

  • No, but you can choose to have one person fill both roles if you want to.

Is it recommended to name a backup medical power of attorney on my advance directive?

  • Yes.
  • In the event the first health care agent named is either unavailable or unwilling to make decisions, the secondary agent can take his/her place.

When I complete my form, what are my next steps?

  • Keep your form in a place it can be easily found; not locked up.
  • Give a copy to your healthcare agent and back-up agent.
  • Give a copy to your primary care doctor.
  • Bring a copy to the hospital to have it placed in your medical record. You can do this when you come for a medical test or bloodwork, or you can bring it to the Health Information Management office of the hospital.

Can I make changes to my advance directive once it is completed?

  • Yes, but you will need to complete a new form which will replace the old form.
  • Complete the new advance directive form and follow the same steps. Tell those with the old forms that they are outdated, and get the new, updated form to the people and places noted above. Outdated forms should not be kept; they should be shredded, if possible.