Living Wills may be effective only in cases of terminal illness. A Health Care Directive is more encompassing and covers just about all medical situations- assuming that the agent you select and the physician taking care of you will apply your requests as indicated. The Health Care Directives are legal in every state though they are apt to take different forms. Check with your local hospital, AARP office or Choice in Dying at 899 989-WILL. You can change your mind at any time. You should ask yourself

1. What are my goals for medical treatment? What do you want to happen if you are disabled or at the end of your life.

2. Who will you select for an agent? This is crucial. If it is a close family member or friend, will they be emotionally strong enough to carry out your wishes? You don't want a physician or other "outsider" swaying these members to do something you did not want to have happen. Perhaps someone slightly removed from your personal situation might fight for your legal rights more convincingly.

3. How Specific should I be? Look at the next page. It's from the Veterans Hospitals several years ago but seems applicable as a guide today.

4. How can you be sure your wishes will be carried out? Well, nothing is 100%, but the more clear and detailed you are about your wishes and the more "forcefully" your agent can present them, the better your chances. Remember, it's your life to live and your death to die. Don't let others bully you into doing something you don't want to do.