What Is an Advanced Directive?

woman lying in hospital bed

An advanced directive is a legal document that allows you to communicate your wishes about your medical care if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. This document can help ensure that your wishes are followed, even if you are unable to communicate them yourself.

There are two main types of advanced directives:

  • Living will: A living will is a document that expresses your wishes about life-sustaining treatment, such as CPR, artificial nutrition and hydration, and mechanical ventilation.
  • Durable power of attorney for health care: A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that appoints someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself. This person is called your "health care proxy."

Why Do You Need an Advanced Directive?

There are many reasons why you might need an advanced directive. For example, if you have a chronic illness or disability, you may want to make sure that your wishes about medical care are known ahead of time. Or, if you are going to be traveling for an extended period of time, you may want to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated while you are away.

Even if you are healthy and not expecting to become incapacitated, it is a good idea to have an advanced directive in place. This way, you can be sure that your wishes will be followed if something unexpected happens.

How to Create an Advanced Directive?

To create an advanced directive, you will need to:

  • Choose the type of advanced directive that is right for you.
  • Discuss your wishes with your health care proxy and other loved ones.
  • Complete the advanced directive form.
  • Have the advanced directive witnessed or notarized.

You can find advanced directive forms online here: Advance Directives | Texas Health and Human Services. You can also speak with an attorney to help you create an advanced directive.

Where to Keep Your Advanced Directive?

You should keep your advanced directive in a safe place where your health care proxy and other loved ones can easily find it. You should also give a copy of your advanced directive to your doctor and other important people in your life.

Revoking an Advanced Directive

You can revoke your advanced directive at any time. To revoke your advanced directive, you must sign a written document that revokes the directive. You must also have the revocation document witnessed or notarized.


An advanced directive is an important legal document that can help ensure that your wishes are followed if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. If you do not have an advanced directive, your loved ones may have to go through a difficult and time-consuming legal process to make decisions about your care.

If you are considering creating an advanced directive, I encourage you to speak with an attorney to discuss your specific needs. Contact us at (210) 361-9796 or at the link provided here.

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