This is a written instruction given to another person (your agent), usually a spouse or close family member, advising them of the extent of medical care you wish if you become mentally incapable of making the decisions for yourself. This document may give your agent power to make decisions regarding your care, where you live, and what activities you should be involved in, if you loose the capacity to make these decisions for yourself.
WHY SHOULD YOU PREPARE A PERSONAL DIRECTIVE?
If you do not have a Personal Directive and become mentally incapacitated and require medical care, your caregivers would not be certain who could provide instructions for your care. Your family and health care professionals would also be in the difficult position of not knowing what your health care instructions are.
Without a Personal Directive your family would not have the legal authority to decide where you live, your long term care or deal with health care professionals on your behalf. A Personal Directive not only appoints an Agent to represent you and speak on your behalf when it comes to health care decisions but also sets out the medical care you want, where you want to live, who should be notified and who should monitor the decisions of your Agent.
Without a Personal Directive, legal decisions about your health care and living conditions can only be made by a Court Order declaring you a Dependent Adult and appointing someone to act as your guardian. This Order can be obtained but takes more time and expense than a Personal Directive and has to be reviewed periodically.
WHO SHOULD PREPARE THE PERSONAL DIRECTIVE?
A Personal Directive should be prepared by anyone who wishes to provide an efficient way for their Agent to make health care decisions on their behalf when they are not competent to make these decisions for themselves. The Personal Directive reduces the potential for family conflict.