Advanced planning documents are legal documents which state your choices for medical treatment and end-of-life care. They are important because they tell your loved ones and health care providers the care you want or don’t want; OR they can designate decision making to someone whom you trust to make those decisions. Essentially, there are five advanced planning documents that can be used to express your choices. Alaska recognizes all these documents.
An Advanced Directive is just that – a directive (or order) given in advance. “Living will” is also sometimes used to describe an advanced directive. Both documents - an advanced directive or living will - tell your doctors or medical providers the kind of care you want and who you have designated to make decisions for you if you cannot. In order to be legally-binding documents, an Advanced Directive (or living will) needs to be signed by you or your legal representative, and notarized. It does not need to be signed by a medical doctor. Advanced Directives are NOT transferable to other states. Your advanced directive may not be valid in another state – only Alaska.
The 5 Wishes is a document that allows you to express your treatment preferences and wishes related to end-of-life care. 5 Wishes is a form of Advanced Directive or living will. 5 Wishes uses very accessible language making the document easy to understand and making it easy for people to express themselves. These are the five wishes:
The DPOA is a legal document in which you name a trusted individual to make medical care decisions if you can no longer make them.
A DNR (Do not resuscitate)/DNI (Do not intubate) is an order signed by a medical doctor and which specifically talks about CPR and intubation in the event of a cardiac or respiratory event. You can include your wishes to not be resuscitated in your Advance Directive, or it can be a separate document. Even healthy people can request DNR/DNI documents. If you wish to have them as part of your medical file, talk with your doctor.
A Primary Right of Disposition document declares the person who will be responsible for the disposition of your body after death. This should be a trusted person who will carry out your wishes for things like funeral or memorial services, burial, cremation, or other wishes. The State of Alaska has guidance for what a Right of Disposition form should include in the Disposition of Human Remains Act. You may also declare your wishes related to disposition in a Will, Living Will, or Advanced Directive.