An advance directive for health care in Georgia, as in other states, is a document that enables you to control all aspects of your personal care and medical treatment. The purpose in creating advance directives is to make it easy for Georgia residents to ensure their wishes are honored if they are unable to articulate them. Certain steps are necessary to properly complete the advance directive and distribute it to persons you've chosen to make sure your end-of-life or emergency care treatment is carried out in the manner you specify.
Discuss End-of-Life Decisions
Talk honestly with your family and physician about the types of medical treatment you desire in the event you are unable to communicate or make medical decisions for yourself. Be specific: Do you want food and water stopped if you are in a vegetative state? If your heart stops, do you want CPR used to try to resuscitate you even if your illness is incurable?
Designate Health Care Agent
In 2007, the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act eliminated the need for preparing a living will or durable power of attorney for health care. Instead, you simply name a health care agent in your advance directive for health care document. The person you designate as your agent will make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so for yourself. This is an important role so choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes.
Prepare the Advance Directive
You can download the advance directive form from the Georgia Division of Aging Services website. The document consists of four parts: First, designate your health care agent and a back-up agent. Second, fill in your treatment preferences. Third, select a guardian -- your health care agent is the logical person to also be your guardian. Fourth, sign and date the advance directive in front of two witnesses. Your health care agent, persons who might gain financially from your death, your doctor and others directly involved in your care cannot be witnesses.
Distribute the Advance Directive
Give a copy of your advance directive to several people, including your health care agent, family members, physician and perhaps a minister or spiritual adviser. Carry a card in your wallet indicating you have an advance directive and specify an emergency contact who has a copy.
References & Resources
- Georgia Department of Human Services: The New Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare Replaces Living Wills and Durable Power of Attorney
- Georgia Division of Aging Services: Advance Directive for Health Care Form
- State of California Department of Justice: Advance Health Care Directive: What's Important to You
- Saint Joseph's: Your Right to Decide: Communicating Your Health Care Choices
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