Navigating the World of Healthcare Advance Directives, Part Two


This is part two in a four-part series dedicated to an in-depth examination of advance directives: who is eligible to make an advance directive, what it is, how to create one, and what to do with the document after it is completed.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a written or oral statement about how you want medical decisions made for you should you not be able to make them yourself. It can also express your wish to make an anatomical donation after death.


Some people make advance directives when they are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Others put their wishes in writing while they are healthy, often as part of their estate planning.

There are two types of advance directives to consider:

  1. A living will is a written or oral statement of the kind of medical care you want or do not want if you become unable to make your own decisions. It is called a living will because it takes effect while you are still living. You may wish to speak to your healthcare provider or attorney to be certain you have completed the living will in a way that your wishes will be understood.
  2. A healthcare surrogate designation is a document naming another person as your representative to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. You can include instructions about any treatment you want or do not want, similar to a living will. You can also designate an alternate surrogate.

Once you’ve decided which type of advance directive works best for your needs, the next step is to better understand how to create one of these documents. This will be covered in the third installment of this four-part series.

Start at the beginning with part one of this series (Click here).

The Legacy Foundation at Shell Point Retirement Community is not open to the public, but rather serves Shell Point residents by providing fiduciary services, such as benevolent gift administration, charitable gift annuities, power of attorney and personal surrogate services, bill paying, estate and gift planning assistance, and the delivery of enhanced financial management services.