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Advance Directives

Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorney. Only an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.

What are advance directives?

Advance directives are important legal documents. An advance directive is a written document or several documents that include your choices about medical treatment. Advance directives are a way to express your desires in advance for health care decisions when you are no longer able to make those decisions for yourself. They allow you to express your wishes to have or not to have certain types of care and you may appoint someone to make health care decisions for you when you are no longer able.

Are there different types of advance directives?

There are two basic types of advance directives in Wyoming, a power of attorney for health care and instructions for health care. Each serves a different purpose, but both may be contained in one document.

What is a Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions?

A power of attorney for health care allows you to designate a person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself either temporarily or permanently. The person you select as your agent will be authorized to make all health care decisions for you unless you limit the authority of your agent in the document.

What are instructions for health care?

Individual instructions are your wishes concerning health care decisions. You have the right to give instructions in a document that tells health care professionals and your agent what type of treatments you would or would not want if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself in the future. You may also express your wishes concerning organ donation in your instructions. Your agent appointed in your power of attorney for health care is obligated to make health care decisions based on the instructions you provide in the advance directive.

Do I need a lawyer to complete an advance directive?

A lawyer can be very helpful in answering questions and helping you complete an advance directive, but a lawyer is not required. You should speak to a lawyer if you have any questions or do not understand any part of the advance directive. Because advance directives are important legal documents, the advice of a lawyer is usually recommended.

Should I talk to my doctor if I am thinking about preparing an advance directive?

Advance directives are important documents that affect your health care. If possible, it may be helpful to discuss your options and have your doctor answer any questions you may have about your health care decisions contained in an advance directive. You may want to speak to your doctor and have your doctor explain how your decisions in the advance directive could affect you.

Should I talk to my family about these issues?

You should discuss your desires with the people that are close to you so they understand your wishes. You cannot include every possible situation or medical possibility in an advance directive, so it is important for your family and the person you appoint as your agent to understand your values when making medical choices so your values and wishes can be respected. Make sure the person you appoint as your agent is willing to take on that responsibility and understands what your wishes are.

Can I change my mind after I have made an advance directive?

You may replace or cancel your advance directive at any time. If you want to cancel and revoke your designation of a power of attorney for health care, you must revoke the designation in writing. If you want to make changes, you may complete a new advance directive which will replace the previous one.

It is important that if you make changes or cancel an advance directive that you notify everyone that has a copy and you provide them with the new version or revocation. This helps to ensure that your current wishes are known and respected.

How do I complete an advance directive?

If you would like to complete and advance directive, you may contact an attorney. Click here for help finding a lawyer.

It is best to seek advice and assistance from a lawyer in completing an advance directive, but you may complete an advance directive without a lawyer if you choose. Click here for an example advance directive. Note that this advance directive grants both power of attorney and gives instructions for healthcare.