What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?
A health care directive, sometimes known as a living will, allows you to appoint a health care agent. The agent makes health care decisions for you should you ever become incapacitated during your lifetime. Maryland law requires your health care agent to make decisions just as you would make the decision. This is called the substituted judgment standard. If your preference in a particular situation is not known to the agent or cannot be determined by your agent, then your agent is obligated to make the decision that would be in your best interest. It is important to appoint a health care agent so that a person or a group of individuals have clear control over your health care decisions.
After you sign a health care directive, it is important to discuss your health care preferences with your agent and even write them down. For example, under what circumstances would you like to be kept alive no matter what the cost? Do you value life quality over longevity? Providing your health care agent with the answers to these questions will give them guidance should they ever be required to make decisions for you.
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