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Frequently Asked Questions
In South Carolina, the Death With Dignity Act allows a person to make a declaration stating that no life-sustaining procedures be used to prolong dying if the person's condition is terminal or if the person is in a state of permanent unconsciousness.What is a Living Will?A Living Will allows you to have a say in the type of health care treatment you receive should you find yourself unable to act for yourself. A Living Will is also commonly known as a Health Care Directive.What is a Medical Power of Attorney?A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf should you find yourself unable to act for yourself.What is the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament?A Living Will deals with the type of health care treatment you will receive while alive. In contrast, a Last Will determines how your estate will be dispersed after you pass. Both documents are part of a strong estate plan.


Health Care Directive

What is a Health Care Directive?

A Health Care Directive is comprised of a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney.

A directive allows you to plan your medical treatment in advance should there ever come a time when you are unable to express your personal health care wishes.

A Health Care Directive is also known as:

  • Advance Directive
  • Living Will Form
  • Advance Healthcare Directive
  • Medical Directive
  • Living Will

What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney is a document used to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.

A Medical Power of Attorney is also known as:

  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Power of Attorney Medical

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a document that you use to indicate your medical wishes in the event you are incapacitated or cannot consent to your health care treatment.

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament?

If you are unable to express your health care wishes in the future, hospitals and family will reference your Living Will as a statement of your medical wishes.

Alternatively, a Last Will and Testament is a document used to indicate how you would like your assets divided or children cared for after your death. You cannot specify medical treatment preferences with a Last Will.

Why should I create a Health Care Directive?

Without a Living Will, the burden of making your medical decisions falls on your family members. Creating a personal directive not only gives you control of your medical wishes but it saves your family from making tough treatment choices on your behalf.

Additionally, appointing a Medical Power of Attorney allows you to discuss your treatment wishes with someone you trust prior to any unforeseen medical circumstance so they can make health care decisions in your best interest.

Who should I choose as my Medical Power of Attorney/Health Care Proxy?

When appointing someone as your Medical Power of Attorney, you should choose someone who is trustworthy, has your best interests in mind, and will make your health care decisions according to your intended wishes.

What medical decisions can I make with a Living Will?

Every state has its own limits as to what you are legally permitted to include in your directive. While you may specify instructions for a variety of medical situations and describe your feelings towards quality of life, keep in mind health care providers will only be allowed to carry out certain procedures according to your state laws.

Here are some of the main treatment choices you will want to specify in your Living Will:

Life Support

Life Support means any life-sustaining procedures done to a patient to restore function to an organ through medical intervention.

Common forms of life support include CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), defibrillators, assisted breathing, dialysis, and artificially administered food and water.

DNR is short for "Do Not Resuscitate", which means you do not wish to receive life support or resuscitation if an organ fails.

Comfort Care

Comfort care means healthcare professionals will use any means possible to relieve your pain, including administering medication or creating a comfortable environment for you to rest in.

Quality of Life

Many people define quality of life in their Living Will to notify their family and health care professionals as to what they may want in extreme health situations (life or death) and what constitutes a quality life for them.

When does my Health Care Directive come into effect?

The terms of your directive are binding once you sign the document. It comes into use when you have been found to be incapable of making your own medical decisions. Typically, this may be when you are incapacitated, in a coma, or in a vegetative state.

Can I make changes to my Health Care Directive?

You can make changes to your personal directive if you destroy your current one, notify your health care representative or hospital of your changes, and create and distribute a new directive. It's important to let everyone in your family know where you keep your advance directive so they can easily find it during an emergency.

Related Documents:

  • Power of Attorney: a document used to grant someone the authority to act on your behalf, such as tending to your finances or maintaining property
  • Last Will and Testament: a document specifying how you would like your estate divided upon your death
  • Child Medical Consent: a form granting a guardian the authorization to make medical decisions on behalf of your child
  • Medical Records Release: a form requesting your medical records be released to you or a third party

Related Articles:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Health Care Directive FAQ
Sample Health Care Directive

Sample

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