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What You Need to Know About Advance Directives

In the state of Maryland, an Advance Directive is an estate planning document that allows you to appoint another person to make medical decisions for you, should you become incapacitated and cannot communicate for yourself.  It also allows you to dictate what level of treatment you would like to receive in certain serious health care situations if you are unable to communicate for yourself.

We understand that just the thought of becoming incapacitated can feel quite unnerving, let alone having to consider what medical decisions you would like to be made if that point is reached. However, as estate planning attorneys, we know the benefits of having an Advance Directive are enormous. An Advance Directive puts you in control of your medical care and alleviates the burden placed upon loved ones who would otherwise be forced to make decisions on your behalf, and who may have no knowledge of your wishes.


What are the parts of an Advance Directive?

  1. The first part of an Advance Directive is to designate a health care agent. Your health care agent is the person you trust to apply the wishes in your Advance Directive. The health care agent can be anyone but is typically your spouse, children, or a close friend.
  2. The second part is your “Living Will”. The Living Will is where you outline what life-sustaining treatments you would like to receive if you become incapacitated. There are a number of situations for which you will decide your treatment preferences, such as if you are permanently unconscious, also known as a vegetative state.
  3. The last part of an Advance Directive is its signing, which is done after the documents are finalized and include all your wishes. Once this is complete, you and two witnesses (including a Notary) will sign the document.
  4. Optional: There is also an opportunity to include an “After My Death” piece to your Advance Directive, which outlines what you would like to be done with your organs and body after you pass away. Examples include donating your organs for transplant operations or your body to medical education. In some cases, additional steps also need to be taken with governmental agencies to register for some of these options.


Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that you have an Advance Directive in place. We recommend that you consider what life-sustaining treatments you would like to receive should you fall ill with COVID-19 and need to be put on a ventilator.

Although it can be difficult to consider these situations, Advance Directives ultimately give you peace of mind that your wishes will be heard and your loved ones will not be left making uninformed decisions on your behalf.


If you need assistance with Advance Directives and finalizing documents remotely during this time, please contact us at (443) 589-5600. At Sessa & Dorsey, our team will guide you through the process.



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