The Advance Care Directive for Health Care gives the individual many options including signing a simple living will, the appointment of a surrogate decision-maker called a health care proxy and designating organ donation. It also allows a person to direct when and if tube feedings should be withheld when terminally ill or persistently unconscious.
If you become unable to make treatment decisions and you do not have an advance directive, your close family member(s) will talk to your doctor, and in most cases, may then make decisions on your behalf. However, if your family members, doctor or other caregivers disagree about your medical care, it may be necessary for a court to appoint someone as your legal guardian. (This also may be necessary if you do not have a family member to make decisions on your behalf.) That's why it is important to put your wishes in writing to make it clear who should decide for you and to help your family and doctor know your wishes.
According to a June 4, 1998 ruling from the Mississippi Office of the Attorney General, the living will form prescribed in the 1984 Living Will Law is still valid. If the forms were properly executed and signed by two witnesses, you are not required to revise your living will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. If you choose to update your previous Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you can combine the two documents into one Advance Health Care Directive. Additionally, by using the new optional form, you can designate a primary physician and specify other wishes that may have been left out of the earlier documents.
Since the legalities of a document such as this can be very complex, it is suggested that you consult your own legal advisor prior to execution of this document.