NJ Advance Directives


New Jersey Advance Directives

The best solution to obtain an Advance Directive which truly "fits" your particular situation is to go to a lawyer who is experienced in such matters and have such attorney draft a Directive for your particular situation, as part of comprehensive estate planning (that is, in connection with a will, possible trusts, a possible plan for gifts, etc.). Elder law attorneys are also competent in this area.

Such planning is a specialized area of law.  Most attorneys are not fully competent in this area. Just as you would not go to a dermatologist for brain surgery, you should not rely on a real estate attorney or the like for skilled end-of-life planning.

Most hospitals have forms.  Typically they will give you such a form gratis.  Those forms are only slightly better than nothing in the event of an emergency.  Federal law requires all hospitals and nursing homes which receive federal funds (thus at the practical level, with Medicare and Medicaid so pervasive, virtually all hospitals) to question newly admitted patients as to their end-of-life wishes and to assist them in making an effectual Advance Directive.

Some local bar associations and the New Jersey State Medical Society have passable forms.

The most important form—and probably the only one you should have—is the New Jersey Appointment of a Health Care Representative (so-called "Proxy Form"). This form appoints an agent to act for you if—and only if—you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. The so-called "Living Will" (New Jersey Instruction Directive) lays out what treatments you do and do not want upon specified factual contingencies. It can on occasion complicate matters and lead to problems.

In our increasingly technologically complex world, it is impossible to anticipate everything that might happen to you and the detailed (possibly newly discovered) medical responses that in the future might be best. The ideal solution, many students of this area have concluded, is to pick someone you trust who shares your values and give such person full and absolute authority to act in your best interests—whatever new developments may have surfaced and whatever may have happened to you.


A generic New Jersey Advance Directive, consisting of a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy, is available  here , from  Caring Connections , a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.