The Georgia Advance Directive Explained

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A Georgia Advance Directive is similar to the Power of Attorney when it comes to affairs of your healthcare. This critical document outlines instructions and future wishes for your healthcare, including decisions around palliative care, life support, and more.

Author: Paul Black

Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. Paul has been named as  a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: May 23, 2019. Last updated on: October 26, 2023.

An Overview of the Georgia Advance Directive

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The Georgia Advance Directives are necessary documents for anyone living in the Peach State who wants to plan for their future responsibly under Georgia Law.

No one wants to consider the potential eventuality of being incapacitated and unable to convey how they wish to proceed, or even if they wish to proceed with their life and post-death decisions. Unfortunately, unexpected things happen to well-meaning people every day.

Even if you have an existing power of attorney and living will, completing the newer form of this document is advised by most elder law and estate planning lawyers, including the Law Office of Paul Black. The forms are readily available and straightforward to fill out.


The History of the GA Advance Directive

To reduce confusion and out-of-date terminology, the Georgia legislature and the Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services introduced the GA Advance Directive for Health Care on July 1, 2007. This combined the living will with a durable power of attorney for health care into one comprehensive and easy-to-understand document.

That way, it is much easier for competent adults in Georgia to complete the form, thereby sharing their wishes for the future health and life of Georgia seniors and their families. This law allows competent adults to document their wishes about medical treatment in the event of future incapacity, hospitalization, or emergency care.

Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care

According to the Advance Directive, GA for Health Care information found here:

Before any action can be taken to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining procedures or to withdraw or withhold nourishment or hydration for a declarant in a state of permanent unconsciousness or is in a terminal condition, that condition must be certified in writing. The attending physician and one other physician must personally examine the declarant and certify in writing based upon the declarant’s condition found during the course of their examination and in accordance with current accepted medical standards that the declarant does meet the criteria for a terminal condition or state of permanent unconsciousness as defined above.”

Before July 1, 2007, Georgians filled out two forms per Georgia law: a living will and a power of attorney for health care.

  1. A living will document your treatment wishes.
  2. Power of attorney allows you to name someone to make your healthcare decisions

The individual forms were so complicated that they were relatively ineffective, and few Georgians used them. The contemporary substitute, the Directive for Health Care, is more straightforward, and an experienced power of attorney counselor can always offer advice.


What Does a Georgia Health Care Directive Do?

The purpose of having a Georgia Health Care Directive is to have a legal document on file regarding your healthcare. It enables you to do the following four things:

  1. Appoint a Health Care Agent
  2. Express Your Medical Care and Treatment Preferences
  3. Name a Preferred Guardian
  4. Share Your Final/Funeral Arrangements

A Health Care Advance Directive, GA, and a lawyer with experience in incapacity planning in Georgia allow responsible adults to prepare for crucial and hopefully unnecessary events.

Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care

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Why Do You Need an Advance Directive GA?

An Advance Directive is an essential tool for responsible long-term planning. It ensures that your medical and post-death wishes are respected and carried out, providing peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones. Below are several compelling reasons why you need an Advance Directive in Georgia:

  • Autonomy Over Personal Healthcare Decisions: An Advance Directive enables you to make crucial healthcare decisions in advance, thereby maintaining control over your medical treatment even when you cannot communicate your wishes.

  • Reduction of Family Burden: It alleviates the emotional burden on your family and loved ones by providing clear guidelines on your healthcare preferences, thereby avoiding potential conflicts or distress during highly emotional times.

  • Preparation for Unexpected Situations: Life is unpredictable, and an Advance Directive prepares you for unforeseen situations where you might be incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your healthcare.

  • Legal Protection: The document offers legal protection to your chosen healthcare agent, allowing them to make decisions in your best interest without fear of potential legal repercussions.

  • Clarity in Post-Death Wishes: Besides healthcare decisions, an Advance Directive also covers post-death arrangements, ensuring that your wishes regarding funeral arrangements, organ donations, and other aspects are respected.

What Do You Do with an Advance Directives Georgia?

Once you have completed a Georgia Advance Directive Form, you must sign it with two witnesses. Then, you must distribute copies to your healthcare representative, doctors, and any medical center that will likely treat you.

If your Health Care Advance Directive is not in the hands of those who need to know your healthcare instructions, it is unlikely that the necessary steps will be performed per your desires. In other words, completing the form will be a waste of time.

These are difficult decisions that many find hard to confront. Consulting with a reputable law firm can provide clarity, support, and understanding.


Understanding the Advance Directive Laws in Georgia

According to these laws in Georgia, you control your healthcare instructions. If your desires change, you can withdraw your existing directive and fill out a new one that more accurately expresses your revised wishes. Then, you must notify everyone who has a copy, including your estate lawyer, so they can return their copies to you to be replaced.

Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare

An Advance Directive for Health Care generally includes a variety of types of potential issues. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Admission to or discharge from a hospital, hospice, nursing home, or other medical care facilities

  • Authorizing after-death donations

  • Authorizing an autopsy and disposal of remains

  • HIPAA requests

  • Palliative Care

  • Withholding or withdrawing food and water or other life-prolonging procedures

With a Health Care Advance Directive, you can define your medical care for different circumstances. If your wishes are fairly basic, you could leave all your healthcare decisions to your physician and representative to act in your best interest. Your estate attorney can advise you on this matter.


Choosing a GA Advance Directive for Healthcare Representative

When planning your Health Care Advance Directive, you must designate somebody you trust to act as your healthcare representative. A few of the popular choices for healthcare agents include:

  • Immediate family member

  • Close friend

  • Your attorney

Although it is also a popular option to have two representatives in case one is unavailable, you can’t name any member of a healthcare facility where you might receive treatment, as it could be a conflict of interest. You need to choose a person with whom you have full confidence and who will abide by your wishes. When choosing, consider characteristics like trustworthiness and decisiveness.

Your estate lawyer can provide valuable advice when choosing someone to represent you for your Advance Directive GA document.

Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare

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Georgia Living Will or Advance Directive

Georgia Living Will

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Although very few differences exist between a Living Will and a Health Care Advance Directive, most people don’t know what they are. Many do not even know what an Advance Directive is.

Fortunately, a qualified Georgia will attorney can quickly explain the idiosyncrasies of each. Basically, the Advance Directive combines the purposes of the living will and power of attorney for health care.

Difference Between Living Will and Advance Directive in Georgia

So, what is the difference between these documents in Georgia? The living will is a written voluntary document completed per Code Section 31-32-1. Advance directives are completed with the requirements of Code Section 31-32-5.

Does the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare Override a Living Will?

Many individuals who have already attended this matter wonder, “Does the Georgia Directive for Health Care override a living will?”

As previously mentioned, the Advance Directive for Health Care is the newer, easier, and more comprehensive form that combines the living will with a power of attorney. You would merely need to complete the GA Advance Directive, destroy every copy of your living will, and distribute the new documents to the appropriate people to override the living will. This includes your healthcare agent and legal representation.

Filling out a Georgia Living Will Form

Fortunately, as it is such a vital document, filling out a Georgia Living Will Form is relatively easy. This voluntary document directs when and how the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures should occur when and if you are in a coma, persistent vegetative state, or have a terminal condition.

Hiring an Attorney to Assist with Your Advance Directive, GA

All estate planning issues are complex enough to warrant legal advice, and your Advance Directive for Healthcare is no exception. When seeking a knowledgeable and reliable attorney for these documents, it is wise to do your homework. Here are some tips to help you find the right attorney in Georgia to assist with your Advance Directive.

Research and Recommendations

Start by researching attorneys specializing in estate planning, healthcare, or elder law. These types of attorneys will have the expertise to properly advise you on your Advance Directive. You can begin your search online through legal directories or ask for recommendations from friends, family, or other professionals such as your doctor or financial planner.

Interview Attorneys

Once you have a list of potential attorneys, schedule an initial consultation with each one. During this meeting, ask about their experience with Advance Directives and how they have helped previous clients with similar documents. It is also important to discuss their fees and any other relevant information, such as how often they communicate with their clients and their process for updating documents.

Review Credentials

As you meet with different attorneys, be sure to review their credentials. Look for any specialized training or certifications in estate planning or healthcare law. You can also check with your state bar association to see if there have been any disciplinary actions against the attorney.

Consider Compatibility

When hiring an attorney for your Advance Directive, finding someone you feel comfortable working with is important. This person will advise you on sensitive healthcare decisions and potentially work closely with your family members. Consider their communication style, values, and overall personality before deciding.

Finding an Advance Directive Form Georgia

Given that it is part of the Georgia Code, the Advance Directive Form Georgia is free and available for anyone over 18. You can find a free form here.

When planning for life-altering situations you hope never to deal with; it is always best to discuss your options with a qualified lawyer.

Contact the Law Office of Paul Black for informed advice regarding elder law and estate planning. Please visit our website to find our contact information and office address to book a free consultation.

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