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Living Will

What is an Advance Directive (Living Will)
An Advance Health Care Directive, commonly known as a living will, permits you to write down your intentions regarding medical procedures, should there come a time when you can no longer express yourself.

The purpose of an Advance Directive is to allow an individual to name the medical treatment they do not want to receive.

In New Jersey an Advance Directive (Living Will) may include both an Instruction Directive and a Proxy Directive. An Instruction Directive is a writing which provides instructions and direction regarding the person's wishes for health care in the event that person subsequently lacks decision making capacity. A proxy Directive is a writing which designates a health care representative in the event the maker subsequently lacks decision making capacity.

Is an Advance Directive legal?
Yes. New Jersey Statute 26:2H-54 (1992) specifically authorizes an individual to execute an Advance Directive, and to appoint another as proxy for health care decisions. Advance Directives are recognized in all 50 states, information regarding the law in a particular state can be accessed through that state or through the Federal Patient Self- Determination Act, 42 USC 1395 c(a)-1 et. Seq.

Can anyone prepare an Advance Directive?
Any competent adult (18 years or older) may execute an Advance Directive.

How is an Advance Directive prepared?
It is important for the Advance Directive to be prepared properly. If it is not, it may be given no effect, thereby thwarting your intentions. The New Jersey Statute sets out specific requirements for executing an Advance Directive. The advance Directive shall be signed and dated by, or at the direction of, the maker in the presence of two subscribing adult witnesses, a notary public, an attorney at law, or others authorized to administer oaths. They shall attest that the person is of sound mind and free of duress and undue influence. A designated health care representative shall not act as a witness to the execution of an Advance Directive.

Where should I keep my Advance Directive?
The Advance Directive does you no good unless it is available. Since it obviously comes into play when you have lost the ability to express yourself, it is important for individuals other than yourself to know where it is. Most hospitals will ask you if you have executed an Advance Directive prior to admission. Certainly the individual whom you have appointed as your proxy should have access to your Advance Directive.

Whom should I appoint as my Health Care Representative?
You should choose someone who is aware of your desires and whose judgment you trust. You should discuss your advance directive with that person and make sure he or she has a copy. It is also important to ascertain that the individual you select is willing to assume this responsibility.

Can I revoke my Advance Directive?
Yes, An Advance Directive may be revoked by notification, to the health care representative, physician, nurse or other health care professionals; or other reliable witnesses. Such notification can be written, oral, or by any other act evidencing an intent to revoke the document. Also, subsequent proxy directives or instructive directives may be executed to revoke ones previously made.

The Surrogates office can supply additional information or an Advance Health Care Directive Kit for your use please call (856) 225-7282 to request for a kit.

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