| Read Time: 2 minutes | Advanced Directives

Estate planning law is filled to the brim with legal jargon, including the terms “advance directive” (sometimes called “advanced” directives) and “living will.” Though these terms are often used interchangeably, advanced directive vs. a living will is a question of a category and a subcategory—a living will is a type of advance directive. Your advance directive or living will allows you to set out your healthcare wishes in advance. 

If you are in the New York City area and need assistance creating an advanced directive, the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help. We focus on estate planning and have years of experience to help guide you.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a written document that lays out your healthcare wishes, typically created in anticipation of end-of-life treatments. Your living will often addresses health decisions like the use of:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);
  • Dialysis;
  • Ventilators;
  • Feeding tubes; and
  • Antibiotics, antivirals, and other medications.

It may also explain what types of palliative care you would prefer to receive. It may declare whether you want to donate your organs or tissue for transplantation or your body for scientific research as well.

What Is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An advance healthcare directive may be a written document that lays out your healthcare wishes, typically created in anticipation of end-of-life treatments—in other words, a living will. 

In Tennessee, for example, advance directives categorically replaced living wills. If you live in Tennessee, you might see the terms used interchangeably.

However, an advance directive may serve different purposes as well. In New York, advance directives include:

  • Living wills,
  • Do not resuscitate orders (DNRs), and
  • Health care proxy forms.

DNRs declare whether you want to receive CPR if you stop breathing or your heart stops, while a healthcare proxy acts on behalf of someone who cannot make health decisions. In function, a healthcare proxy acts like a medical power of attorney. 

Depending on your state, these terms may be used interchangeably or have specific and distinct meanings. An experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you through these legal concepts. 

Living Will vs Advanced Directive

Distinguishing between an advanced directive vs. a living will depends on context. The most commonly accepted difference between an advanced directive and a living will is that an advance directive is a category that includes living wills. Other types of advance directives exist, like DNRs and powers of attorney.

Yet, this rule is not consistent. Under New York law, every living will is an advance directive, but not every advance directive is a living will. Under Tennessee law, there are only advanced directives, not living wills. 

Because of the variety of laws and definitions, you may see the terms “advance directive” (or “advanced directive”) and “living will” used interchangeably. However, a living will is a type of advance directive, and advance directives may also include medical powers of attorney and DNR orders.

Advance Directives: Living Wills and More

Having a living will in place can give you peace of mind and allow you control over what happens if you can no longer express your wishes. If you are in the NYC area and want to learn more about establishing an advance directive, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Let us put our years of experience and knowledge to work for all of your estate planning needs. 

Author Photo

Andrew Lamkin is principal in the law firm of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., where he focuses his practice in the areas of elder law, estate planning and special needs planning, including Wills and Trusts, Medicaid planning, estate administration and residential real estate transactions. He is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.

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