In order to have a legal document that expresses your wishes for the health care you want to receive at the end of your life, you should complete a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care (also called a Living Will in other states). In completing the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, you will do two things:
1) Legally appoint someone as your Health Care Agent to make health care decisions for
you when you cannot or do not want to speak for yourself, and
2) Formally state your preferences for the medical treatments you do or do not want
As a competent adult, you have the right to refuse any unwanted treatments or procedures for any reason, even treatments that could keep you alive (unless you are pregnant with a viable fetus).
The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care covers only health care decisions. It has no effect over financial affairs that are unrelated to your health care.
You or your Health Care Agent are responsible for notifying your doctor and other health care providers that you have a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care. If you choose not to complete a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, there may be restrictions on the health care decisions that relatives or friends can make for you.
If a doctor or other health care provider has direct knowledge of your preferences as documented in your Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care or expressed by your Health Care Agent, he is required to abide by your preferences as long as your preferences are legal. If the doctor or health care provider is unwilling to honor your preferences, he must assist in transferring your care to another provider.
The laws on honoring health care directives differ from state to state. Because the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care you complete in Georgia expresses your preferences about medical care, it will influence that care no matter where you are treated. However, there is a possibility that the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care may not be honored in another state. If you spend a great deal of time in another state, you may want to complete a document that meets all the requirements of that state.
The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to appoint a Health Care Agent – this is a person who will have the legal power to make decisions regarding your health care – but ONLY when you are incapable of making those decisions yourself or choose not to make your own decisions.
You may be incapable of making your own decisions because you are unconscious, mentally ill, in a coma, in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease or are otherwise unable to make your own decisions. You do not have to be terminally ill or near death for your Health Care Agent to be able to make decisions for you, but you must be incapable of making your own decisions or choose not to make your own decisions.
A change in your marital status may revoke the appointment of your Health Care Agent.
The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care also will give you the option to nominate someone to serve as your guardian. A court may appoint a guardian if it determines that you are not able to make significant responsible decisions for yourself. You may nominate the same person you designated as your Health Care Agent to serve as your guardian. However, if you chose to nominate someone else to be your guardian, you should be aware that the person named as your Health Care Agent would have priority over your guardian in making your health care decisions, unless a court determines otherwise.
If you change your mind, your Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care can be easily amended or canceled.
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