An Alabama Advance Directive lets Alabama residents clarify how they want to be treated in medical emergencies or situations where they can’t say for themselves.
Having your advance directive in place helps ensure your medical wishes are met, regardless of whether you’re a healthy 19-year-old or a terminally ill 90-year-old.
1. What Is an Alabama Advance Directive?
An essential component of estate and end-of-life planning, an Alabama Advance Directive helps you take control of your healthcare future. This form allows you to select an agent responsible for making important healthcare decisions when you are no longer able to do so on your own. In some states, your advance directive (medical power of attorney) also allows you to declare your intentions regarding life-sustaining treatments.
The better you understand critical terms related to Advance Directives, the easier you will find it to complete this important document. The following terms are highlighted in Title 22, Section 8A-3 of the Code of Alabama:
- Do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) order: An order declaring that resuscitation should not be pursued if the patient in question is discovered to have suffered cardiopulmonary cessation.
- Life-sustaining treatment: Any medical procedure or care that only serves to extend the life of a patient with a terminal illness rather than treat the condition in hopes of finding a cure. Examples include assisted ventilation, renal dialysis, and the administration of antibiotics.
- Terminal illness: Any condition expected to lead to the patient’s death unless life-sustaining measures are employed.
- Competent adult. Any adult over the age of 19 who is alert and able to understand basic descriptions of medical procedures and explanations of the potential consequences.
- Attending physician. The healthcare professional is primarily responsible for treating the patient identified in the advance directive.
2. Who Should Have an Alabama Advance Directive?
Are you an adult (19+) living in Alabama? Do you have specific wishes for your future? If so, you are an excellent candidate for an Advance Directive.
This document can benefit any adult resident of Alabama who desires a greater degree of control regarding their end-of-life planning. Typically, Alabama residents begin preparing their advance directives as they encounter the following life changes:
- Having children
- Becoming ill or injured
- Entering a different career track
- Suffering the death of a loved one
While one or more of these situations may have prompted you to seek information about Alabama Advance Directives, there are no specific prerequisites to preparing this critical document. Once you’ve completed your advance directive, you will enjoy greater peace of mind regarding your future standard of care. Earlier is nearly always better as a calamity can strike at any age.
3. How to Select Your Agent(s)
The agent highlighted in your Advance Directive will hold a great deal of control over your future, so don’t settle for just anybody.
As you consider your options, keep the following points in mind:
- Maturity is essential – Your agent should be over 19 years old, but they should possess considerable emotional maturity beyond that. Sometimes, seemingly ideal candidates struggle under the weight of such a demanding responsibility, so it’s essential to choose carefully.
- Shared personal convictions make executing an advance directive easier. Your goal in establishing an advance directive should be to ensure your wishes are met and make this process easier for your agent. If your agent disagrees with you strongly about the role of life-sustaining treatment, they will struggle to make tough decisions according to your wishes.
- Your agent should have your best interests at heart – This seems obvious, but consider whether your agent stands to gain in any way from taking on such a position. You should feel confident that your agent will also abide by your best interests when making difficult or potentially life-changing decisions. Only select somebody you hold in extremely high esteem.
4. Which Decisions Can Your Agent(s) Make on Your Behalf?
Your agent will receive considerable control over your care, although the extent of this control can be outlined in your Advance Directive. You are permitted to place limitations on your agent’s powers and responsibilities.
Otherwise, your agent may be allowed to:
- Secure access to your medical records without a medical records release form
- Approve your admission to various healthcare facilities
- Withdraw you from healthcare facilities
- Approve the use of or deny certain medications or procedures
Your agent can direct the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining provisions such as artificial hydration or nutrition — but only if required to do so in your Advance Directive. The need for specific authorization is stated in Title 22, Chapter 8A-4 of the Code of Alabama.
To empower your agent to make non-medical (e.g., real estate or financial) decisions, use an Alabama power of attorney form.
5. What to Do If You Change Your Mind
Your Advance Directive is not set in stone, and sometimes changes are warranted.
Examples of situations that may call for an update to your advance directive include:
- Perspective shifts regarding end-of-life care
- The original agent passes away or is no longer able to handle the responsibility
- Successor agents become incapable of or unable to execute the advance directive
Should you choose to rescind your Advance Directive, you can create a revocation of power of attorney or destroy the document.
Additionally, you can outline your wishes for revocation and your updated advance directive in a new document. These and other methods for revocation are mentioned in Title 22, Chapter 8A-5 of the Code of Alabama.
6. How to Complete Your Advance Directive Alabama Form
After selecting your agent and highlighting stipulations regarding end-of-life care, review your Alabama Advance Directive thoroughly to ensure it reflects your wishes. If you feel confident in the completed document, you can move forward with its execution.
At least two witnesses are required, and both should be over 19 years old, as referenced in Title 22, Chapter 8A-4 of the Code of Alabama. These witnesses should not sign the advance directive on your behalf, nor should they be appointed as your agent within the document. Witnesses cannot be related to you or be designated as beneficiaries in your last will.
Your Advance Directive should be signed and dated before submitting it in writing. It will become effective when your attending physician and another medical professional have both determined you have a terminal injury or are in a permanent state of unconsciousness — and that you can no longer comprehend or direct your medical treatment.
It’s not easy to complete an advance directive, but the effort will eventually prove worthwhile. You will ultimately be glad that you took the time to create a detailed advance directive that reflects your wishes and beliefs. This document could play a massive role in not only your future but that of your loved ones — proceed accordingly.
Does an advance directive need to be notarized in Alabama?
No, an Advance Directive created in the state of Alabama does not need to be notarized.