What is an Advance Directive?

When a person has been medically incapacitated severely enough, they’ll lack the ability to make medical decisions on their own behalf; in this circumstance, advance directives with explicit desires outlined in advance can be extremely useful. The following are some of the most important things to keep in mind about the regulations surrounding these directives.

Necessary Factors

In order to be approved for the ability to establish a directive, a few special conditions need to be fulfilled. Two physicians must both verify any combination of the following determining factors before the living will can be used to determine medical treatment at the end of one’s life:

  • Incurable unconsciousness
  • Terminal illness
  • An inability to suggest changes

In addition to those three factors, other condition might qualify if deemed fitting per the regulations of the state. Any complications that remove a person’s agency to make their own medical decisions could qualify for allowing directive action in their will to be undertaken.

Appointing A Designated Decision-Maker

In addition to establishing a choice for a specific kind of medical treatment to be carried out at the end of life, another person may also be designated as a trusted decision maker; however, even if a person is designated as a person’s end-of-life decision maker, certain circumstances might come into play that affect their eligibility.

Certain states have special conditions that may specifically apply to the eligibility of people to be designated as decision makers. Before anyone can be designated, it’s vital to ensure that all of the vital conditions have been fulfilled in advance.

If the person whose health was compromised by any condition somehow recovers their ability to make their own decisions again, then their designated decision maker will no longer have the authority to make any calls on their behalf.

Legal Validity

No matter what specific state an advance directive is established in, they are always considered legally valid once signed. In order to get the directive finalized, there must be witnesses present at the time of signing who can confirm its establishment.

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EMT Authority During Emergency Treatment

It’s important to keep in mind that emergency medical technicians have limits when it comes to living wills. The technicians will not have any authority to honor any advance directives outlined by a person that they tend to in an emergency situation. The main priority if the EMT will be to get the person in distress into stable condition as soon as possible.

Only after a practicing physician has thoroughly evaluated the condition of a person brought into their care, an advance directives be honored. If a person who’s brought into the clinic has had their directive established in a state other than the one they’re receiving emergency treatment in, then there may be limitations on what parts of the directive can be honored.


By establishing a directive in advance, people who would have otherwise had no control over their medical treatment when incapacitated can maintain the ability to direct what happens to their bodies. It’s important to be aware of the fact that the term “advance directive” may be referred to with different terms depending on the state.

To have the directive established, special attention should be paid to the specific rules laid out by local laws. Advance directives are free from any expiration dates and will remain in effect unless voluntarily changed.