There are few conversations more difficult to begin than discussing advance directives. These directives reflect a loved one’s desires for medical treatment when they are unable to decide for themselves.
No one can force anyone to have an advance directive completed. There are no state laws that requires anyone to have one. It is a completely optional document.
However, when a directive is not available and a physician feels the patient is unable or cannot make decision, the decision must be made by the patient’s immediate family, friends, guardian or caregiver. In some cases, legal surrogates, trustees or other physicians are appointed to make an authoritative decision.