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Advanced Directives - Legal forms to help guide your care

Advanced medical directives are legal forms that allow you to state your health care wishes in the event that you become unable to do so. These papers let others know about your wishes and can help guide your care. There are two kinds of advance directives:

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health
  • Living Will

Advanced Directives Video

Watch a video about the importance of preparing Advanced Directives »

What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

  • A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for Healthcare document Authorizes another person to make healthcare decisions for an Individual who, temporarily or permanently, can no longer make or communicate such decisions.
  • Without a DPOA for healthcare, the family member making the healthcare decisions for you may not be the individual you would select.
  • DPOA for Healthcare are effective until revoked or death occurs.
  • At least every two years, the document should be reviewed to ensure the individual appointed and the healthcare decisions expressed are still appropriate.

What is a Living Will?

  • A Living Will is a document which specifies a person’s choices of life-sustaining treatment to be received should the need arise.
  • A Living Will normally does not allow for the appointment of an individual to make healthcare decisions.

Who should be appointed to make your Healthcare decisions?

Think carefully about who will best be able to speak for you on healthcare matters. For many, this is a spouse, or adult child, but anyone may be appropriate, including a friend. Please consider:

  • Where they live
  • Would they make the decision you would want them to make

What is a life-sustaining treatment?

  • Life-sustaining treatment maintains life when an organ or body system has ceased to function at a level adequate for survival.
  • Life-sustaining technologies include antibiotics and other medications, IV’s, machines, or medical procedures that can keep a person alive.

What about hydration and nutrition?

  • Life can be sustained by artificial food and water given intravenously or by inserting a tube through the nose or stomach.
  • Under certain circumstances, artificial hydration and nutrition may be determined to be a greater burden than benefit to the person and thus maybe withheld or withdrawn.

What if I don't have an advanced directive?

If you do not have an Advanced directive and you become unable to make decisions about your healthcare, your physician or healthcare provider will ask your spouse or closest relative for consent.

SD Law states that if a patient is incapacitated a family member can make healthcare decisions in the order stated:

  • The spouse, if not legally separated;
  • An adult child;
  • A parent;
  • An adult sibling;
  • A grandparent or an adult grandchild;
  • An adult aunt or uncle or and adult niece or nephew.
  • Close Friend

The person making decisions must be competent to make a decision.