Advanced Directives

An advance health care directive is a legal document that tells your health care provider and loved ones your wishes about your health care.

There are two main types of Advance directives —

  • Living will (clickable PDF to NYS Living will document)
  • Healthcare Proxy, also known as Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (clickable PDF to NYS Healthcare Proxy)

Living Will

A living will is a written document that helps you tell doctors how you want to be treated if you are dying or permanently unconscious and cannot make your own decisions about emergency treatment. In a living will, you can say which of the procedures listed in the document you would want, which ones you wouldn’t want.

Healthcare Proxy (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care)

for health care is a legal document naming a healthcare proxy, someone to make medical decisions for you at times when you are unable to do so. Your proxy should be familiar with your values and wishes. This means that he or she will be able to decide as you would when treatment decisions need to be made. A proxy can be chosen in addition to or instead of a living will. Having a healthcare proxy helps you plan for medical emergency situations that cannot be foreseen.

Some people are reluctant to put specific health decisions in writing. For them, naming a healthcare proxy might be a good approach, especially if there is someone they feel comfortable talking with about their values and preferences. A named proxy can evaluate each situation or treatment option independently.

After you have completed your advance directives, talk about your decisions with your healthcare proxy, loved ones, and your doctor to explain what you have decided. This way, they are not surprised by your wishes if there is an emergency.

General Questions


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