Medical directives, advance: Advance directives preserve the person's right to accept or reject a course of medical treatment even after that person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated to the point of being unable to communicate those wishes. There are two basic types of advance directives: (1) a living will, in which the person outlines specific treatment guidelines that are to be followed by health care providers; (2) a health care proxy (also called a power of attorney for health-care decision-making) in which the person designates a trusted individual to make medical decisions in the event that he or she becomes too incapacitated to make such decisions. Advance directive requirements vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another and should therefore be drawn up in consultation with an attorney who is familiar with the laws of the particular jurisdiction. (This entry is based upon material from the National MS Society).
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Last Editorial Review: 12/12/2018