Advance directives are a way to plan for future health issues you may face. They inform your doctor of what kind of medical care you would like to receive and/or not receive when you become unable to speak for yourself; they also establish who may make medical decisions for you and under what circumstances. You must be at least 18 years old to establish advance directives. Advance directives may be changed at any time, as long as you are of sound mind.
There are three types of advanced directives:
- Living Wills – A living will, also known as a healthcare directive, is a legal document that allows you to describe the type of medical care you would like to receive if you become incapacitated through terminal illness or serious injury. It is a way to make sure that your final wishes regarding your healthcare are carried out as you intend; it is also a way to protect your family from having to make difficult healthcare decisions for you. A witness is not required to establish a living will in New Mexico.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare – A durable power of attorney is a legal document whereby you may name who you would like to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. In New Mexico, a durable power of attorney goes into effect once the principal (person who established durable power of attorney) loses the ability to make his or her own decisions (see New Mexico Durable Power of Attorney for more information).
- Do Not Resuscitate Order – A do not resuscitate order (DNR) is an advance directive you can make to not be resuscitated by CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. Without a DNR, doctors and nurses will do what they can to revive you. DNRs are recognized in all states.
Clarity is of utmost importance when creating an advance directive in New Mexico. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a New Mexico estate planning attorney help you establish your advance directive. An experienced attorney can make sure that your advance directive is written in such a way that there is no question about what kind of healthcare you would like to receive if you become incapacitated.