What is an Advance Directive?
Under Maine law, the term “advance directive” means any spoken or written instructions you give about the health care you want if a time comes when you are too ill to decide. It is best to write it all down because some instructions are required to be in writing. A health care power of attorney is an example of an advance directive that must be in writing.
Who can complete an Advance Directive?
Anyone 18 or older may use the Maine Health Care Advance Directive Form in whole or in part. If you are younger than 18, you may also be able to use an advance directive under certain limited circumstances.
How does an Advance Directive help?
If you sign an Advance Directive, your family and your doctor will know who to talk to about your care or what kinds of treatment you want or don't want when you are too sick to decide. This could happen if you have a serious illness or are near the end of life. If doctors don't know your wishes, they will treat you until they can ask your family what you want. If your family doesn't know, you may get treatment you don't want or which you would stop if you had your way. In an emergency, you will receive care until the doctors can determine your condition and what your wishes are. If you do not have an Advance Directive, Maine law allows your doctor to ask your relatives - and perhaps others close to you - to make decisions about your care.
How do I revoke an advance directive?
You can revoke an advance directive, including a health care directive, at anytime and in any manner that communicates your intent. You do not need to do this in writing. However, in order to revoke the designation of an agent (durable health care power of attorney), you need to do this in writing, and sign and date the document, or you need to communicate your intent to revoke the designation clearly to your primary physician.
What form do I use?
While there are different forms available, you may choose to use the Maine Health Care Advance Directive Form updated in February 2008 by clicking here: Advance Directive Form. There are 7 parts of the Maine Health Care Advance Directive Form that allow many choices. Each part is about a different choice.
For more information about Advance Directives, please see the Legal Services for the Elderly's website.