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An advance directive is a useful legal document for an adult of any age to plan for future health care needs. The advance directive is the legal document you prepare after discussing, deciding and putting into writing your choices for treatment and care and appointing a health care decision maker for care in the event you are not able to make medical decisions for yourself. This type of planning can make a critical difference in your life, and the lives of the ones who care about you, either in emergency situations or when facing end-of-life care situations.
The advance directive tells your doctor what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions (if you are in a coma, for example). You can also use an advance directive to state what kinds of treatments you do or do not want, especially the treatments often used in a medical emergency or near the end of a person’s life.
No one is required to have an advance directive, but you may want to think about these matters to make a plan now. If you don’t have an advance directive and later you can’t speak for yourself, usually your next of kin will make health care decisions for you. But even if you want your next of kin to make decisions for you, an advance directive can make things easier for your loved ones by helping to prevent misunderstandings or disagreements about your care.
You do not need to use a specific form for an advance directive in Maryland; you can use the form provided on the Maryland Attorney General’s web site or other forms may be used and are just as valid legally. Additional information about the living will in Maryland or advance directive information can be found at: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/AdvanceDirectives.htm
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