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What should I know about advance directives for health care in Georgia?

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Advance directives for health care in Georgia Resources

Advance directives for health care in Georgia

What should I know? +

Contents


What is an advance directive for health care?

An advance directive for health care lets you plan ahead for a time when you might become unable to make medical decisions. 

 

There are three parts to the Georgia advance directive for health care:

  • The first part allows you to pick someone to make healthcare decisions for you. The person you pick is called your agent. This used to be called a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

  • The second part lets you make choices about life support and end-of-life nutrition/hydration. This used to be called a Living Will. 

  • The third part lets you nominate a person to be appointed as your guardian if the court finds that a guardian is necessary.

 

The law in Georgia changed in 2007. If you made a valid Living Will and/or a Durable Power of Attorney before June 30, 2007, those documents are still valid.

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What are my rights and responsibilities with my advance directive for health care in Georgia?

You have the right to make an advance directive of health care if you are:

  • Of sound mind, and

  • You are at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.

 

You have the right to choose: 

  • Who you want to make decisions about your health care when you cannot.

    • Your doctor or health care provider cannot be your agent. 

    • You can appoint an agent and a back-up agent.

  • What life support measures you want physicians to take or not take if you:

    • Have a terminal condition, or 

    • Are in a permanent state of unconsciousness. 

    • Note: Before any action can be taken to withdraw or refuse a life sustaining measure:

      • at least two doctors must personally examine you and 

      • certify in writing that you have one of these conditions. 

 

You have the right to change or revoke your advance directive for health care at any time.

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What are my agent’s rights and responsibilities with my advance directive for health care in Georgia?

An agent has the right to not accept the position, even if you named them. 

 

If your named agent does agree to act, they have certain responsibilities, including:

  • They must not make any decisions that go against your express wishes.

  • Their actions must be inline with your intentions and wishes.

  • If your wishes are not clear, the agent must only take actions that are in your best interests.

 

There are a number of health care actions or decisions you might authorize your agent to take related to your health care. Your agent could:

  • Authorize or refuse medical care.

  • Sign and deliver documents on your behalf.

  • Negotiate and enter into agreements on your behalf. This includes contracts for home health aides, or a nursing home placement.

  • Accompany you in an ambulance.

  • Admit or discharge you from any health care facility.

  • Visit or contact you.

  • Have access to your relevant medical records. The agent could also allow doctors to disclose your medical information to other people.

  • Consent to organ donation.

  • Make funeral, burial and cremation arrangements. 

 

Your agent cannot appoint a different person to make your health care decisions.

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What can I do? +

Contents


How can I make an advance directive?

You can find the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care form and instructions on the Division of Aging Services website. You do not have to use this form, but the language of your advance directive must be substantially similar to this one. If you have completed a form in another state that is substantially similar, it will still be valid in Georgia. 

 

For your advance directive for health care to be valid, you must:

  • Sign the form or expressly tell someone else to do it for you,

  • Sign it in front of two witnesses. The witnesses do not have to see you sign, or sign in front of each other. The witnesses must be:

    • Of sound mind, and

    • Be at least 18 years old. 

  • You must see both witnesses sign.

 

There are limits on who can be a witness. Your witnesses:

  • Cannot be the person you appoint as your health care agent.

  • Cannot knowingly be in line to inherit anything from you or benefit from your death. 

  • Cannot be part of your health care team.

  • Only one of the two witnesses can work at the health care facility where you are being treated.

 

This form does not need to be notarized. 

 

Once you have a completed form, make copies. Keep one copy in your home and give the others to:

  • Your agent,

  • Family members, and 

  • Your doctor.

 

If your preferences change, you should complete a new advance directive form. This will automatically revoke any earlier advance directives.

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How can I end or revoke an advance directive?

You can revoke an advance directive for health care at any time. There are several ways to revoke your advance directive:

  • By physically destroying the document,

  • By writing a statement saying you wish to revoke the advance directive for health care,

  • By telling a witness over 18 that you wish to revoke the advance directive. The witness must make a written statement of your wishes within 30 days. A written statement might be your physician noting your wishes in the medical record.

 

An advance directive for health care is automatically revoked if:

  • You get married and the named agent is anyone other than your new spouse; or

  • You get divorced and your named agent is your ex-spouse.

  • You execute a new advance directive for health care.

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Resources

 

Legal Help

  • For help in Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, or DeKalb County, contact Atlanta Legal Aid. Fill out the Atlanta Legal Aid online intake application or call 404-524-5811 (main line), 404-657-9915 (GA Senior Legal Hotline), to see if you qualify for legal assistance.
  • If you live in any other Georgia county, contact the Georgia Legal Services Program for help. Access the GLSP online intake application or call 1-833-457-7529 to see if you qualify for legal assistance.
Última revisión y actualización: Oct 23, 2020