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What are advance directives and living wills?

"Living Will" is another name for "advance health care directive".  Throughout this section of the site, the term "advance health care directive" (or simply "advance directive") is used, because that is the name used in the Delaware law related to this subject.

An advance directive is established by completing an Advance Health Care Directive Form.  An advance directive enables you to:

  • Give instructions about your own health care.
    Part I of the advance directive form lets you give specific instructions about health care decisions.  Choices are provided for you to express your wishes regarding the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive if you have a terminal medical condition or if you become permanently unconscious, including the provision, withholding, or withdrawl of artificial nutrition, hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and mechanical resuscitation. Medically appropriate care necessary to ensure pain relief will be provided. Space is also available for you to include any additional health care instructions.
  • Name an agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapable of making your own decisions.
    Part II of the form allows you name another individual as an agent to make health care decisions for you if you can no longer make your own decisions.  You may also name an alternate agent.  This section of the form is called a Power of Attorney for Health Care.  For more details, see What is a power of attorney for health care?
  • Express an intention to donate bodily organs and/or tissue following your death.
    Part III of the form is optional.  It allows you, if you wish, to designate anatomical gifts to take effect upon your death. 
Last Updated: Friday January 16 2009
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