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What is an advance directive?

If you are like most people in Rhode Island, someone you know or are related to may have been diagnosed with a serious, terminal illness. One of the things that this experience often leads people to do is to talk more candidly with their family members about what type of medical care they do or do not want to experience or undergo. However, it is not necessary, nor is it recommended for people to wait until these moments to have such conversations and make such decisions.

An advance directive, also called an advance health care directive, is a valuable tool that even the healthiest person can establish. An accident may render a young person unconscious and unable to make decisions on their own behalf, for example.

The American Cancer Society explains that an advance directive can be setup to do one of two things. In one scenario, it can outline all of your requests such as the wish to be resuscitated or not to be resuscitated. In other situations, it may simply appoint another person to act and make decisions for you if you cannot do so for yourself. These documents in no way grant the right for someone else to manage finances on your behalf. Specialty advance directives may be created that pertain to topics such as organ or live tissue donations.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to provide Rhode Island residents an overview of advance health care directives and the various types of decisions and details they may outline.

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