Georgia Advance Care Planning Documents
In Georgia, there are four legal-binding documents available for Advance Care Planning:
Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care
O.C.G.A 31-32-1 et. seq. (2010).
Click here for a downloadable form with definitions and explanations.
The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care (“Advance Directive”) combines the features of a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. A living will provides legal grounds to state your wishes for your medical care in case you cannot communicate for yourself. A healthcare power of attorney allows you to authorize someone, your healthcare agent, to act on your behalf in matters related to your healthcare when you cannot communicate for yourself.
The Advance Directive also allows you to state your treatment preferences in case of terminal illness or a state of unconsciousness. Specifically, it allows you to specify whether you want your life prolonged by artificial means. You may also nominate a guardian for yourself, and state your preferences regarding the disposition of your remains.
This document does not need to be notarized, but does require the signature of two witnesses who have witnessed you sign, and then signed themselves in your presence.
While there is some disagreement in other states as to whether an advance directive legally binding, be assured that in Georgia, it is. In 2016, The Supreme Court of Georgia found a physician liable for not following the instructions of a patient’s healthcare agent. Doctor’s Hospital of Augusta v. Alicea
Choosing an Agent
Georgia Statutory Financial Power of Attorney Form
O.C.G.A 10-6B-1 et. seq (2017).
Click here for a downloadable form with definitions and explanations
In 2017 the Georgia General Assembly passed the Georgia Power of Attorney Act (“Act”), enacting the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, and adding a new chapter to the Official Code of Georgia’s Title 10. The Act also created the Georgia Statutory Financial Power of Attorney Form, which when completed and properly executed, is legally binding on 3rd parties.
Completing a financial power of attorney is a key part of Advance Care Planning. Planning for incapacity is part of Advance Care Planning, and in many cases, it will become part of end of life planning as well. Making sure that you’ve named someone to manage your finances at the end of your life should you become unable to do so for yourself is a crucial component that should be included in the Advance Care Planning process.
The financial power of attorney (also known as a general durable power of attorney) is immensely powerful and its power is often abused. The Act is designed to strike a balance between the principal’s need for flexibility in advance care planning, and the need for acceptance by 3rd parties of the agent’s authority. The Act provides protection for the principal if their agent misuses or abuses their power, or attempts to take advantage of a principal with diminished capacity.
The Georgia financial power of attorney form allows an individual to name an agent to manage their financial affairs when they are unable to do so for themself. The agent may be given complete or limited powers, and their authority may be immediate or springing, meaning only effective under specific circumstances described in the special instructions section of the document. It does not give your agent powers over your healthcare decisions, only your financial matters. It authorizes the principal’s agent to transact business on behalf of the principal, such as paying bills, and engaging in banking and real estate transactions.
Choosing an Agent
Georgia Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form
O.C.G.A 31-1-14 (2015)
The POLST form is medical order form approved by ethe Georgia Department of Public Health. It is meant for use by those who have a serious health condition or are nearing the end of their lives. It is completed by a person with decision-making capacity and their attending physician. If the person does not have decision-making capacity and has designated a healthcare agent, the agent may complete the form on the person’s behalf.
The POLST tells others your wishes for life-sustaining treatment at the end of your life. The form is on generally bright pink paper so it can be easily identified in case of emergency. It is designed to assist those in the last phase of their life to have their medical orders travel with them during transfers to and from various healthcare facilities. The POLST form goes with you as you move from hospital to a rehabilitation facility, or to skilled nursing, care, or back to your home and community. No matter where you are living it is advised to keep the POLST form prominently displayed either on the refrigerator door, or by the phone, or by your bedside.
You should ask your doctor if the POLST form is right for you, and consider completing one if you reside in a long-term care facility or need long-term care services, if you might die within the next year, or if you want to avoid or receive some or all life-sustaining treatments. Some examples of life-sustaining treatments are cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), intubation and mechanical ventilation, artificial hydration and nutrition, future hospitalization, feeding tubes, antibiotics, and pain and comfort care.
O.C.G.A 31-39-1 et. seq. (2011)
Download this pdf from the Georgia Department of Human Services for a template form, definitions, and explanations of Georgia’s DNR law.
The Georgia Law on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), provides a DNR form (also known as “No Code”) which allows a person to make a health care choice about one specific treatment – CPR. CPR is used when people stop breathing or their heart stops. The DNR tells the person’s healthcare team that the person does not want to be resuscitated.
Since a DNR is a physician’s order, the law provides that we request the form from our physicians, so each physician’s office or medical facility likely has their own form. And while anyone can draft the form according to the law, it must be signed by a physician to be effective. In our work at GAELO, we want people to consider having this form as part of their advance care planning package. If their physician is not offering it, we want them to be able to create one on their own and get their physician’s signature. That’s why we want to at least provide the statutory “form” as a template if someone needs to draft it themselves.
The DNR order is a medical order. It only refers to CPR and does not interfere or change any other treatments you may be receiving, either curative or palliative. Talk to your doctor about whether a DNR order is right for you.
The order may be requested by you, and the form may be completed by you or your doctor, but it must be signed by two physicians in order to be effective. Also, due to the specifics in the law, there may be circumstances when the order may not be carried out regardless of the person’s wishes due to the physical location of the person at the time of the emergency. A DNR may be revoked and should be reviewed with your doctor periodically.
The law also provides for a bracelet or necklace option in addition to the signed form. You may wear it on your wrist or ankle, or around you neck, and you must post a notice in your home in a prominent place to provide notice of the DNR order to emergency technicians. The bracelet or necklace must be substantially similar to ID bracelets worn in hospitals and must provide the following information: your name, your healthcare agent’s name and phone number (or next of kin, if no agent), the signing physician’s name and phone number, and the date of the order.