Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD)

An Advance Healthcare Directive appoints a healthcare power of attorney (agent) to make health care decisions, if you become disabled. It also specifies end-of-life decisions.

An Advance Healthcare Directive combines two concepts into one document.

  1. It appoints a healthcare power of attorney (agent) to make health care decisions for the Grantor, if he or she becomes disabled.
  2. It also provides instructions given by the Grantor to specify end-of-life decisions.

It is important to remember that so long as the Grantor is mentally competent they maintain the right to make all personal health care decisions including the refusal or discontinuation of treatment.

Should the Grantor become disabled in the future, an Advanced Healthcare Directive will generally prevent court intervention when properly drafted and followed.


Disability is age non-discriminatory. It results from accident, age, disease and/or illness.

There are two estate planning documents, (which cannot be combined), that provide protection in the event of future disability. These are an Advance Health Care Directive and a financial Power of Attorney.

What does an Advance Health Care Directive do?

An AHCD is a document in which a person names a health care agent to make medical decisions if they are no longer able to do so and states end of life decisions.

Does this prevent the appointment of a guardian of my person?

Yes, if properly drafted and followed, this document can prevent the appointment of a guardian of your person. The healthcare agent is making the same decisions a guardian of person would be responsible for.

Among other information, an AHCD should include:

  • A health care power of attorney which appoints health care agent(s) to make medical decisions if you become unable to do so,
  • Health care instructions concerning your desired medical care/treatment and end of life instructions,
  • A HIPAA declaration/release,
  • A pregnancy statement for women of child bearing age, and
  • A statement concerning anatomic donation.

I have a Living Will. Do I need an AHCD?

Yes. A Living Will only contains instructions for the provision, withdrawal, or withholding of life sustaining procedures. It does not appoint a health care agent.

Is my spouse protected under my AHCD?

No. Each spouse needs their own document.

Who should draft an AHCD and POA?

Because of the complexities involved, these documents should be prepared by an attorney experienced in estate planning and elder law. It is not recommended that other professionals draft these documents or that you use a form purchased from an office supply store or online.

Disclaimer – This overview is provided for general information relevant for planning undertaken in Maryland only. None of the information within should be relied upon. Statutes, regulations, and the cases interpreting them are constantly changing. Consult an attorney before taking any action. Your reliance on or use of this information does not create an attorney/client relationship or privilege between you and the law firm and its employees, or their heirs, personal representatives, successors, or assigns.


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