Documenting Your Decisions

Advance Directives are documents that describe your health care decisions and wishes when you are unable to speak for yourself.  They are the tools to help you communicate your choices. The State of New Hampshire recognizes the following two forms of Advance Directives:

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care:

  • Documents who would make medical decisions for you
  • Your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is authorized to speak ONLY if you can’t
  • May also be called a:
    • “Health Care Agent” or "Health Care Proxy”
    • “Health Care Surrogate”
    • "Health Care Power of Attorney"

Your Health Care Agent

  • Can be anyone over the age of 18.
  • Can be a family member, loved one or close friend
  • Cannot be your personal physician
  • Is someone who:
    • You trust
    • Knows you well
    • Will advocate on your behalf
    • Will honor your wishes

Living Will:

  • States what you want and do not want for life sustaining medical treatments at the end of life or if you are permanently unconscious
  • May also be called:
    • Directive to physicians
    • Healthcare declaration
    • Medical directive

Important points to know about Advance Directives include:

  • Your advance directive should reflect your wishes.
  • Lawyers are not needed.
  • Not all documents are legally valid in every state.
  • In New Hampshire, the signatures of either two witnesses or a notary are required.
  • Your Advance Directive does not expire, but can be re-created or updated at anytime.

Once you complete your Advance Directives, you will feel secure in knowing:

  • You have appointed a Health Care Agent to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself.
  • Your medical care wishes will be known.
  • You have identified and communicated the comfort care measure you would like to receive.
  • You have communicated your emotional and spiritual needs.