Advance Directives and Wills

Advance directives are documents that alert others, such as family members, friends, and health care providers, how a person wants to be treated in the event of incapacitation and/or an inability to speak or decide for himself. Common advance directives include living wills, health care proxies, and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders. A living will describes the type of life-sustaining measures a person wants or does not want to be taken, including use of feeding tubes and/or ventilators. A health care proxy, also known in some states as a power of attorney for health care, provides an identified individual with the authority to make medical decisions on another's behalf. A DNR order indicates that the person does not want any lifesaving action to be taken in the event that he stops breathing. Other important documents include wills and powers of attorney. A will describes what a person wants to happen with his estate (including money, possessions, etc.) after his death, and a general or financial power of attorney authorizes an identified individual to make decisions on that person's behalf. These decisions usually involve finances, and the document may be tailored to be as specific or general as necessary. Durable power of attorney survives the person's incapacitation.

Included in this HIV Policy Resource Bank category are forms and guidance for planning for illness and incapacitation, end-of-life care, and death.