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Health & Balance

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Questions & Answers: Advance Directives and End of Life Decisions

Will my advance directives be honored in another state?

The answer to this question varies from state to state. Some states do honor advance directives from another state; others will honor out-of-state documents to the extent they conform to the state's own law; and some states do not address the issue.

In fact, a state would probably have to honor an advance directive that clearly expressed your treatment wishes, because your constitutional rights and rights established by case law to accept or refuse treatment may be even broader than your rights under a specific state law-please check with your local Area Agency on Aging to verify your state's law.

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However, if you spend a significant amount of time in more than one state, we recommend that you complete the advance directives for all the states involved. It will be easier to have your advance directives honored if they are the ones with which the medical facility is familiar.

How can I change what is in my advance directives?

An advance directive remains in effect until you revoke it. If you complete a new advance directive, it invalidates the previous one. For this reason you should review your advance directives periodically to ensure that they still reflect your wishes. If you want to change anything in an advance directive once you have completed it, you should complete a new document.

Do I need a lawyer to prepare advance directives?

No. Your local hospital, public health department, state bar association or state office on aging also may provide them. Generic forms that are not state-specific are available and may be used to supplement your wishes. However, review any supplemental forms to ensure that language in one form does not conflict with language in another form.

Read all of the instructions carefully to ensure that your document is witnessed properly and that you have included all of the necessary information. It might be wise to ask someone else to look over the documents for you to be sure that you have filled them out correctly.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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