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Advance directives & living wills

An advance directive is an umbrella term referring to legal documents like a living will, health care proxy, and so on. These documents outline your medical wishes for family and medical professionals.

Health care agent & health care proxy

A health care agent or health care proxy is someone you authorize to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you're unable to speak or act for yourself, this trusted person advocates for your medical decisions, wellbeing, and type of medical care. In other words, this is someone who will follow your wishes outlined in your living will or advance directive, and it's an important part of planning for uncertainty.

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Living wills

A living will is a type of written, legal statement that outlines your medical wishes and preferred treatment. If you're no longer able to give informed consent, this document states your wishes and preferences, particularly relating to pain management, organ donation, and measures used to keep you alive. In your living will, you might name a health care proxy to make decisions on your behalf if you're not able.

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Non-legal advance care planning

Advance care planning isn't always about filling out legal documents. It can also be non-legal planning, like talking to loved ones about your wishes, creating a medical plan, or even just talking to your doctor. It's important to have these conversations and to think about these medical decisions at any age. By taking the first step to create a non-legal advance care plan, you're more prepared for the future.

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What is a HIPAA Release Form?

By Allyson Brooks, BA in International Relations, Social Relations & Policy