October 16, 2007
ATLANTA (GA) – The Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services (DAS) informs Georgians that as of July 1, 2007, the new Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare has replaced the Georgia laws on the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. This document combines the characteristics of both the living will and the durable power of attorney for healthcare and still allows people to choose for themselves the medical care they want when they are no longer able to communicate with doctors or family. Those persons who already had living wills and/or durable powers of attorney for healthcare are allowed to keep the forms that they have and they are still legally binding until they are revoked. The Durable Power of Attorney for H ealthcare was repealed or removed from the law and the Living Will law was completely rewritten and replaced. For a copy of the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare, go online at www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov and click on Publications on the left.
"Having one document to fill out will simplify the process for people choosing to decide for themselves the medical care they want when they are unable to communicate with others," said Maria Greene, Director of DAS. "We encourage individuals to go to our website to obtain a copy of the new Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare."
Like the living will, the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare allows for withholding or withdrawing treatment and authorizes a person’s doctor to withhold or withdraw certain medical procedures such as a respirator or ventilator in certain conditions. It also permits one to choose to accept or refuse artificial nutrition or hydration-feeding tubes. And like the former durable power of attorney for healthcare, the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare allows one to appoint an agent to carry out many more medical treatment decisions and choose the kinds of medical treatment they do or do not want.
The changes by the 2007 Georgia General Assembly were made to reduce confusion, inconsistency, out-of-date terminology and confusing and inconsistent requirements for execution as well as to follow trends set by other states to combine the concepts of the living will and healthcare agency into a single legal document.
Once the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare is signed, the person should have several copies made. The originals should be kept with your other important papers, such as your Last Will and Testament. These papers should be kept in a place where someone can find them. Copies should be given to your family members and your doctors. These documents can be revoked at any time.
A Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare allows people to retain control over their medical care, even if they are no longer able to communicate. Making decisions about this document should help individuals and their families rest easier, knowing that their wishes about their care are known. The law does not require a person to consult an attorney or a physician when executing these documents, but if someone has questions about them, it is a good idea.
The Division of Aging Services provides free information forms on the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. For more information, contact the Division of Aging Services at 404-657-5319 or go to the Division’s website at www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov and click on Publications on the left.
For information, contact
Edna Jackson; 404-657-1386