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Advance Directives for Tennessee

What are advance directives?

Advance Directives help people communicate their treatment preferences when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
In 2004, Tennessee added a new law regarding the creation of Advance Directives.
Under the new law, there are two types of Advance Directives:
  • Advance Care Plans (Formerly called a "Living Will")
It is a document that tells your doctor how you want to be treated if you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. You can use it to: 
  • Tell your doctor whether or not you want life-prolonging medical treatment such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) breathing machines, or tube feeding.
  • add special instructions, such as burial arrangements;
  • donate your organs
  • Appointment of Health Care Agent (previously called a "Durable Health Care Power of Attorney" or "Medical Power of Attorney")
 A type of Advance Directive that allows you to name a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.  This person is known as your Agent.


TN Advance Directives Booklet

Appointment of Health Care Agent

What is an Appointment of Health Care Agent? (formerly Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney)
An appointment of Health Care Agent is a type of Advance Directive that allows you to name a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.  This person is known as your Agent.

What can my Agent decide for me?
Your Agent can make any decision about your health care that you could have made yourself if you were able, such as consent to treatment or refusal of treatment.
An Appointment of Health Care Agent does not allow your Agent to make any financial decisions for you.

When does the Appointment of Health Care Agent become effective?
The Appointment of Health Care Agent only becomes effective if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
When you recover and are able to make decisions for yourself, your Agent no longer has authority to make decisions for you.

Whom should I choose to be my Agent?
You should choose someone that knows your personal values and wishes.  You should talk to your Agent about your choices and make sure he or she knows what is important to you.
You should also choose a person to serve as your Alternate Agent in the event that your Agent is unable  or unwilling to make health care decisions for you.
Your doctor cannot serve as your Agent.

How is an Appointment of Health Care Agent different from an Advance Care Plan?
An Appointment of Health Care Agent allows you to choose someone else to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.
An Advance Care Plan is a written record of decisions that you have made yourself.  As part of your Advance Care Plan, you can appoint an Agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.

Creating Advance Directives

How do I create an Advance Directive?
An Advance Care Plan form and an Appointment of Health Care Agent form are included in the same booklet.  You can use these forms, but you are not required to do so.  These forms can be completed without the assistance of an attorney.  However, the information in the booklet is not intended to be legal advice.  If you need legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

Living Will Registry

The U.S. Living Will Registry

The U. S. Living Will Registry is a nationwide service which stores advance directives electronically and makes them available to hospitals 24 hours a day. 
A hospital may not only call to request a copy of an advance directive, but also to see IF a patient has an advance directive registered.  Call 1-800-LIV-WILL (1-800-548-9455).
For more information concerning the services of the U.S. Living Will Registry or to secure a registration form, call 1-800-LIV-WILL (1-800-548-9455).  Or visit the U.S. Living Will Registry's web site: www.uslivingwillregistry.com.  Registration forms can be downloaded from the website.

Notarization

Does my Advanced Directive have to be witnessed or notarized?
Your Advance Directive must either be witnessed by two competent adults OR notarized.
If you choose to have your Advance Directive witnessed, one of the witnesses must be a person who will not benefit from your estate and is not related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.
People who are named to serve as your Agent or Alternate Agent cannot serve as witnesses.

Organ Donation

I want to be an organ donor. Can I use the Advance Care Plan to say so?
Yes. You can also specify what organs if you want to.

I DON'T want to be an organ donor. Can I use the Living Will to say so?
          Yes.

Would my healthcare agent have the power to donate my organs and tissues?
Yes, unless you specify on the form that you don’t want them to. It is important for all issues to talk to your agent so they will know what you want.


Patient Requests for Advance Directives Information

If a patient requests Advance Directives information, where can I find the booklets?

Dickenson Community Hospital:
  • Admitting Office

Franklin Woods Community Hospital:
  • Nursing Stations on patient floors                              
  • Pastoral Care Office 302-1165                   
  • Admitting Office

Indian Path Medical Center:
  • Admitting/Assessment RN                              
  • Utilization Review

Johnson City Medical Center:                                     

  • Brochure racks on patient floors                              
  • JCMC Pastoral Care Office
  • Chaplain On-Call (Pager 610-5050)                    
  • Admitting Office

Johnson County Health Center:
  • Registration Desk

Johnston Memorial Hospital:

  • Social Worker

Quillen Rehab:

  • Case Management
  • Nursing Shift Leaders

Norton Community Hospital

  • Social Worker

Russell County Medical Center:

  • Social Worker

Smyth County Community Hospital:

  • Social Worker

Sycamore Shoals:

  • Social Worker


Questions and Answers

What is an Advance Care Plan (Living Will)?

An Advance Care Plan is a document that tells your doctor how you want to be treated if you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. You can use an Advance Care Plan to:

1) tell your doctor whether or not you want life-prolonging medical treatment such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), breathing machines, or tube feeding;
2) add special instructions, such as burial arrangements;
3) donate your organs;
4) name a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.

Who can create an Advance Care Plan?
Competent adults and emancipated minors may create Advance Care Plans

When does an Advance Care Plan go into effect?
An Advance Care Plan only goes into effect if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious and unable to make decisions for yourself.

What if I change my mind about my Advance Directive?

The best way to change your Advance Directive is to create a new one.  The new Advance Directive will cancel the old one.  Be sure to notify all people who have copies of your old Advance Directive and collect and destroy those copies.
If you name your spouse as your Agent and then get a divorce, the appointment of your spouse as your Agent is cancelled.  If you want your ex-spouse to remain your Agent, you should create a new Advance Directive.

Do I need a lawyer to fill out the form?

No. You do not need a lawyer to complete the forms. However, if you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer. You should also consult an attorney if you want to change anything on the standard form.

Witnesses

Does my Advanced Directive have to be witnessed or notarized?

Your Advance Directive must either be witnessed by two competent adults OR notarized.. If you choose to have your Advance Directive witnessed, one of the witnesses must be a person who will not benefit from your estate and is not related to you by blood, marriage or adoption. People who are named to serve as your Agent or Alternate Agent cannot serve as witnesses.

Who can witness my Advance Care Plan or Appointment of Health Care Agent?

Friends, non-relatives and other people who know you. People at work, at church, and neighbors may be witnesses. At least one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and not entitled to any portion of your estate upon your death under any existing will or codicil or by operation of law.A competent adult who is not named as your health care agent.

Notarization

Do I need to have my Advance Care Plan (Formerly called:  Living Will) or Appointment of Health Care Agent (Formerly called:  Durable Heath Care Power of Attorney) notarized?


Tennessee State Law does not require it. You may if you want to.

Ex-Spouse

My wife/husband and I just got divorced. She/He was my appointed Health Care Agent (Formerly called:  Durable Heath Care Power of Attorney).  Is this Appointment of Health Care Agent form still valid?

No. If you have divorced your wife/husband, she/he will not automatically remain your agent. If you DO WANT her/him to remain as your agent you will need to fill out a new Appointment of Health Care Agent form  saying that you want your ex-wife/ex-husband to remain your healthcare agent.

Another State

I'm moving to another state. Will my Advance Directive be good there?

If you make a living will in Tennessee but you are in another state, the law of THAT state is used. Most states recognize valid document from other states, but you may wish contact a local lawyer or fill out a new living will for that state just in case.

Organ Donation

I want to be an organ donor. Can I use the Advance Care Plan to say so?
Yes. You can also specify what organs if you want to.

I DON'T want to be an organ donor. Can I use the Living Will to say so?
Yes.

Would my healthcare agent have the power to donate my organs and tissues?

Yes, unless you specify on the form that you don’t want them to. It is important for all issues to talk to your agent so they will know what you want.

Additional Questions

Do I have to create an Advance Directive to receive health care treatment?          
No. Health care providers cannot require you to create an Advance Directive as a condition of receiving treatment.

Will I be refused care if I have an advance directive?
No.

Will I be refused care if I DON’T have an advance directive?
No.

Will I have problems with my insurance if I have an advance directive?
Insurance companies, HMOs, or PPOs cannot use an advance directive to change or cancel your medical coverage.

What if my doctor (hospital) doesn’t want to follow my advance directive?

They are obligated by law to do so or to transfer you to another doctor or hospital that will follow your advance directive.

What if I need more information or have questions about Advance Directives?
If you need more information or have questions about Advance Directives, please call the Professionals at 423-431-5551 or toll-free at 1-800-888-5551.

What if I change my mind?  Revocation

The best way to change your Advance Directive is to create a new one.  The new Advance Directive will cancel the old one.  Be sure to notify all people who have copies of your old Advance Directive and collect and destroy those copies.

If you name your spouse as your Agent and then get a divorce, the appointment of your spouse as your Agent is cancelled.  If you want your ex-spouse to remain your Agent, you should create a new Advance Directive.


Where to get more information (Includes Spanish Forms)

Witnesses

Does my Advanced Directive have to be witnessed or notarized?

Your Advance Directive must either be witnessed by two competent adults OR notarized.. If you choose to have your Advance Directive witnessed, one of the witnesses must be a person who will not benefit from your estate and is not related to you by blood, marriage or adoption. People who are named to serve as your Agent or Alternate Agent cannot serve as witnesses.

Who can witness my Advance Care Plan or Appointment of Health Care Agent?


Friends, non-relatives and other people who know you. People at work, at church, and neighbors may be witnesses. At least one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and not entitled to any portion of your estate upon your death under any existing will or codicil or by operation of law.A competent adult who is not named as your health care agent.