I am familiar with the laws in California, but believe that some form of AHCD is accepted in most states. This is a document which should be executed by every competent adult. It should be explained by your lawyer and all options considered by you and discussed with whomever you wish to hold the power. Hospitals and physicians often give you a bare-bones checklist before entering a hospital. In my opinion, this serves to trivialize the important decisions facing the individual by giving you a few blanks to complete and a checklist. Without informed explanation, the AHCD is easy to do incorrectly. They are actually harder to draft than simple wills.
Basic Elements of AHCD:
(1) Your name and address;
(2) the names, addresses and telephone numbers of those to you wish to give the power to act for you;
(3) When the power becomes effective (either immediately or if you are determined to be incompetent);
(4) Define the scope of the power, e.g. all issues of health, for a specific in-hospital procedure, requiring consultation or concurrence of treating physician(s) or specialist(s);
(5) The standards you wish applied to determine what should be done to prolong your life, e.g., irreversible coma, artificial nutrition and/or hydration, lack of mental activity, the amount of time needed before making a decision, medication which could alleviate pain but which would be addictive, balancing the benefits and the burdens of proposed treatments, etc.
(6) Various instructions about funeral arrangements, anatomical gifts, who should not be allowed to visit in a hospital;
(7) A specific waiver of Federal protection of non-disclosure (HIPAA) so that all information and records will be released to the person who needs them;
(8) Any number of other considerations which should be addressed by the person concerned when consulting counsel.
THE DOCUMENT MUST BE WITNESSED AND ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE A NOTARY
GIVE THE ORIGINAL TO THE PRIMARY HOLDER OF THE POWER AND COPIES TO THE SECONDARY HOLDERS, YOUR TREATING PHYSICIANS, HOSPITALS AND HEALTH PLAN