Advanced Healthcare Directives
Georgia combined the Power of Attorney for Healthcare and the Living Will into one form in 2007, and the new document is called the Georgia Advanced Directive for Healthcare. The new form incorporates both end of life and medical treatment decisions.
A “Living Will” typically permits individuals to specify (in advance) their preferences for medical intervention when death is imminent. With a power of attorney for healthcare, on the other hand, we give permission to designated persons to speak to medical personnel and gain access to our medical records—during emergencies and as a matter of routine during incapacity.
The new Georgia form contains this important provision, which allows trusted loved ones to see patient records and discuss treatment options. Due to federal HIPAA privacy laws, without this signature clients’ families may be restricted from consultation under urgent circumstances.
Is my healthcare power of attorney or Living Will valid?
The development of the new, combined form not mean that clients who have healthcare powers or Living Wills executed before 2007 do not have valid powers of attorney for healthcare. They simply might want to review their paperwork to ensure they are still effective. Often clients and their families believe that the document they signed at the hospital prior to a procedure is their power of attorney for healthcare, and/or their Living Will. Often what was signed was a release for that facility only. For the elderly or ill, or for those caring for them, it is important to determine what document is in place, rather than making the assumption.
Unlike a power of attorney for finances, the Georgia Advanced Healthcare Directive does not have to be notarized, but it must be witnessed by two individuals who are not named as healthcare agents on the form. It is understandable that caring relatives often believe they can sit down with the fragile person they are caring for and “fill out the form for them.” This is not the case. Although the form is readily available on the Georgia Department of Human Services website with instructions for valid signatures, the terminology can be confusing. When in doubt, seek explanations and assistance to execute the form.
Click here to obtain a copy of the Georgia form