What is a Directive to Physicians?

A Directive to Physicians is more popularly known as a “Living Will.” It is a document that instructs your physician not to use artificial methods to extend your life if you have a terminal or irreversible condition. Stating your wishes in advance of such a diagnosis reduces the possibility of family conflict and spares your loved ones these difficult end-of-life choices.

Requirements for a Directive to Physicians

You may execute a written Directive to Physicians as long as you are competent. You must sign the directive in front of at least two witnesses who are also competent adults.

At least one of the witnesses cannot be:

  • A person you have named to make health care treatment decisions for you. A person related to you by either blood or marriage.
  • A person who is a beneficiary of your estate.
  • A person who has a claim on your estate.
  • A person who is your attending physician.
  • A person who is employed by your attending physician.
  • A person who is an employee of a health care facility where you reside if that person is involved in providing for your direct care as a director, officer, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or its parent organization.

Rather than signing your directive in the presence of witnesses, you can sign it in the presence of a notary public who then acknowledges your signature. If your directive to physicians is properly signed in the presence of witnesses, it is effective even if it is not notarized. Neither your doctor nor any health care facility may require that your directive be notarized.

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