In the event that you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, it is recommended that you have Advance Directives in place. These serve as legal documents that provide instructions about your healthcare preferences. If you ARE ABLE to make your own healthcare decisions, these documents would NOT be used, but they are good to have in place to help loved ones know your preferences in how you are cared for when you are unable to communicate your choices. Be sure to discuss advance care planning preparations through these directives so that proper instructions are in place in the event that a health emergency leaves you unable to represent yourself (i.e., stroke, coma, illness etc.)

Two types of Advance Directives for the state of Ohio:

Health Care Power of Attorney: With this Advance Directive, you designate a person, either permanently or temporarily, to make healthcare decisions and speak on your behalf - for example, if you are under in a coma, under anesthesia or sedated.

A Living Will: With this Advance Directive, you set up detailed, written instructions regarding end-of-life preferences for healthcare - this directive would be activated if one is terminally ill and unable to make decisions, or if in an unconscious state.



What does having Advance Directives cost?
No charge - documentation services for Advance Directives are free

Are Advance Directives required?
Advance Directive documentation is NOT required but strongly advised. You can also choose to complete only one directive document and add other documentation later. It is recommended that adults have Advance Directives in place via their Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Though it is not an easy discussion to have, it is also best to have conversations with family members about your care wishes and brief them on specifics within your directive documents. When setting up directives, you must understand your options and communicate them in front of a witness or a notary.

Can I choose my care preferences based on my values and beliefs?
Yes - your personal choices based on your values and beliefs are always taken into account when your Advance Directives are set up. 

What if I want to change my Advance Directives?
You can amend your directives at any time by completing new paperwork. Changes should be written and submitted with a signature and date per state law. New copies should also be given to those who had former documents. (The latest version of your form/s on file is what will be followed. It is recommended that you:

  • Review and revise documents at least every 5 years
  • Consider Advance Directive changes when significant life events occur (i.e., a death in the family, a divorce, when children turn 18 years old, at the time of new health conditions or terminal illness diagnosis)

What to know about Advance Directives:

  • Any person over 18 years of age who can make their own decisions can set up Advance Directives. You do not need a lawyer to do this, however, the paperwork will need to be signed by two witnesses or a notary. 
  • Advance Directives fall to a next of kin/family member
  • Advance Directives are especially important if:

    • Your caregiver or healthcare representative is not a legal next of kin

    • You have multiple next of kin; OR

    • You have specific medical wishes related to a religious affiliation, family situation or medical condition

What happens if I do not have Advance Directives?
If you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself and do not have a Power of Attorney document in place, an Order of Decision Makers is initiated. A legal guardian named by the state becomes the first decision maker. Otherwise, the Order of Decision Makers for Ohio are:

  • Spouse
  • Adult children (majority of)
  • Parents
  • Adult siblings (majority of)
  • Or other nearest relative