Advance Care Planning

Making decisions about medical treatments that you would want or not want is called advance care planning. You can document your wishes using advance directives.

There are two basic kinds of advance directives:

  • Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Living Will

The Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint a person to speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself, in order to make decisions about your health. This person is called your Health Care Agent. This should be someone you trust, someone who understands you, someone who will be able to make these decisions when the time comes. (Other terms for this person include "health care proxy" and "surrogate.")

The Living Will is a statement of instruction describing your wishes about medical treatments if there comes a time when you are extremely sick or if you have a disease that is not curable.

Creating these advance directives: The State of Maryland has an optional form that can be used. Maryland also recognizes a form called “The Five Wishes Directive” and most forms from other states.

No matter what form you use, it is important to have discussions with your loved ones about your wishes. Talk about your values and the things that are important to you. Discuss the term “quality of life” and what that means to you.

More information (including the State of Maryland form in 7 different languages) can be found on the Advance Directives page.

Read this Advance Care Planning article.

Related article Leaving a Personal Legacy

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