Are you confused by the term “Advance Directive?” Maybe you’ve heard someone refer to it as a Living Will or a Medical Power of Attorney. Today we’re going to look at the Advance Directive in the state of Georgia, what it does, and how it works.
The State of Georgia created the Advance Directive to combine two documents: the Living Will and the Power of Attorney for Medical Care. Many states still use those forms individually, but Georgia has combined both together.
This means the Advance Directive does both things.
The Advance Directive allows you to select certain medical choices for end-of-life care in advance— specifically to make those decisions on your own behalf in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to choose for yourself. These decisions are the same decisions that would be covered by a Living Will in other states.
You may have very strong opinions or feelings about the use of life support, CPR, etc. This form allows you to make choices that honor those feelings or opinions.
This part of the Advance Directive also allows for medical decisions made for religious or cultural reasons. For instance, some religions or cultures do not believe in blood transfusions. This form allows for medical choices such as those to honor the incapacitated person as if they were capable of making the choice themselves.
The benefit of making your decisions in advance and putting them in your Advance Directive is twofold. The first is that your wishes have been made known and can be honored. The second is that a loved one doesn’t have the pressure of trying to decide for you. Since you’ve already made these decisions in advance, it removes the pressure of making hard end-of-life decisions from those you love.
This form also allows for some wishes to be carried out after death, such as organ donation. It can also allow your agent to authorize an autopsy. You may have fears or concerns that because you’ve selected organ donation that your medical team may not try their best to save you, but that is not something to worry about. Your medical team will do everything within their means, in accordance with the medical choices made in your Advance Directive, to ensure your life is preserved.
Medical Power of Attorney
The Advance Directive also allows you to name an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated or unable to make those decisions yourself. These decisions would be those outside of the scope of the decisions you have already made yourself in the Advance Directive.
Additionally, this portion of the form grants your agent access to your medical records and also gives your medical team permission to speak to your agent about your medical care and conditions.
As mentioned above, this agent can be given authority to request and authorize and autopsy, allow the harvesting of your organs, donate your body to science, or authorize burial or cremation. You can make all of these choices in advance, or you can allow your agent to make the final decisions.
Choosing an Agent
Choosing a medical power of attorney, or agent, is a very important decision. This person is often a spouse, or sometimes a child or children collectively. Just like naming a Trustee or Executor, remember that this person could hold a lot of power. So, it is important to choose an agent who understands your wishes, medical preferences, and values. It’s also important to consider the emotional capacity of that person. Making medical decisions for an ailing loved one can be stressful and take an emotional toll. It’s important to know that the person you have named is able to handle this situation.
We also recommend asking the agents you plan to name if they are willing to serve in this capacity should the need arise. It’s always better to talk about this in advance, rather than run the risk of that person being surprised and refusing to act in a time of crisis.
Click here for more information on how to talk to your loved ones about your estate plan.
An Advance Directive for Health Care is an important part of your estate plan.
Having one in place ensures that your wishes will be honored, and the right people will have access to your medical team– should you become incapacitated. As with all estate planning tools, it’s important to review and revise this document. We recommend reviewing annually and updating as needed.
Commonly Asked Questions about Advance Directive in Georgia:
Does an Advance Directive need to be notarized in Georgia?
No, an advance directive in Georgia doesn’t need to be notarized. However, it does require either two witnesses or a notary public for it to be valid.
Is the Georgia Advance Directive for health care the same as a living will?
The Georgia advance directive for health care encompasses more than just a living will. It includes instructions for healthcare decisions and appoints a healthcare agent, not just end-of-life wishes.
What happens if you don’t have an Advance Directive in Georgia?
Without an advance directive in Georgia, healthcare decisions may fall to family members or medical providers, potentially leading to disputes or decisions that don’t align with your wishes.
What is the Georgia Advance Directive for health care Statute?
The Georgia Advance Directive for health care is governed by the Georgia Code, specifically Title 31, Chapter 32. This statute outlines the requirements and legal framework for advance directives in the state.
Our office is here to help you draft or edit your Advanced Directive for Healthcare and all of your estate planning documents. Call us at (404) 736-6066 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.