Your Ag Newsroom


Planning How We Want to Live With Advanced Directives

January 9, 2018

What are advanced directives?

  • They are legal documents that we can create to provide instructions about medical care we receive, if we are ever not able to communicate our wishes.
  • There are two kinds of legal documents used to communicate these wishes: living wills or medical power of attorney.
  • A living will requires a person to write down their wishes about medical treatment. This document will be referenced if we are unable to communicate about our medical care. Also known as: directive or physicians, healthcare declaration, or medical directive.
  • A medical power of attorney is a document that names someone else to make medical decisions if we cannot communicate. Also known as: healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney for healthcare, or appointment of a healthcare agent.
  • The person we name in the medical power of attorney will be called a healthcare agent, surrogate, attorney-in-fact, or proxy.

Who should have advanced directives?
Every adult should create a living will or a medical power of attorney.

When should we have advanced directives?
As soon as we are classified as a legal adult (age 18 in most states).

Why should we have advanced directives?

  • Advanced directives are tools for communicating when we are not able.
  • While advanced directive discussions often focus on end-of-life, they ultimately communicate our wishes for how we want to live.
  • Communicating our wishes for healthcare is the kindest thing we can do for our families and loved ones.

How do we get advanced directives?

  • Many healthcare providers have forms available with the receptionist.
  • You can create your own. See samples offered by the South Dakota Legislature include: Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will Sample.
  • All advanced directives are required to be signed in the presence of a notary public and two witnesses.
  • You can consult an attorney if you have additional concerns.


  • Use tools such as The Conversation Project, Five Wishes, Go Wish, or Consumer’s Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning to get you started.
  • Share advanced directives with family. In particular, the person you named as your healthcare agent.
  • Advanced directives should be reviewed annually.
  • Keep a card in your purse or wallet with name and contact information of healthcare agent.
  • Place a copy of advanced directives on your refrigerator clearly labeled “Advanced Directives” because emergency service personnel are trained to check there.
  • Provide copies of advanced directive to any organization where you receive medical care.

Comfort One (DNR)

Another advanced directive option in South Dakota is Comfort One. This advanced directives pertains to the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. More specifically, it is a bracelet worn to alert emergency personal to not perform resuscitative measures in the event of a respiratory or cardiac arrest or malfunction. Consult your physician for details.

References & Resources:

The preceding is presented for informational purposes only. SDSU Extension does not endorse the services, methods or products described herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind regarding them. The laws governing advanced planning vary by state. The resources provided in this article are for informational purposes only and should never be substituted for the advice of a trained medical or legal professional.

Source: Leacey E. Brown, iGrow