Will your health care choices be honored if you become incapacitated?

Protect your right to control your health care. Learn how to create and register your living will and health care proxy.

Health care is vitally important to everyone. Wherever you are, whatever the situation, you want to be sure you receive appropriate treatment. But even more importantly, you want your decisions to be honored.

The United States Supreme Court guarantees you the right to make those choices, even when you are too sick to make your wishes known. This right gives you control and protects your dignity. But how can you be sure that your choices will be honored if you're incapacitated?

Every American, regardless of age, faces this question. If you plan now, you can make sure you get the kind of care you want, and relieve your family of burdensome decisions.

Make your choices known in an advance directive.

An advance directive is a legal document in which you state how you want to be treated if you become very ill and there is no reasonable hope for your recovery. Although laws vary from state to state, there are basically two kinds of advance directives.

1. A living will is a legal document in which you state the kind of health care you want or don't want under certain circumstances.

2. A health care proxy (or durable health care power of attorney) is a legal document in which you name someone close to you to make decisions about your health care if you become incapacitated.

You can have both - a health care proxy naming a person to make the decisions, and a living will to help guide that person in making the decisions.

In order for your advance directive to be useful, it has to be available. After all, your advance directive won't do you any good if no one can find it.

Ensure that your advance directive is available when you need it, wherever you are.

Fortunately, there's an easy, secure way to make sure that your advance directive is available to your family and doctors wherever and whenever it's needed: the U.S. Living Will Registry.

Developed in consultation with attorneys who represent hospitals, the U.S. Living Will Registry is a nationwide service that stores your advance directive electronically and makes it available 24 hours a day to health care providers across the country. Your advance directive - living will, health care proxy, or both - is made available to your family and doctors when most needed: when you're too sick to communicate your wishes.

U.S. Living Will Registry eliminates worries about carrying your advance directive with you, as well as problems of finding it should you become ill.


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