Declaración de voluntades anticipadas

What is the Advance Directives Declaration?

23 November 2023

What are advance directives? The Advance Directives Declaration is a legal document that allows people to express their wishes about medical treatment in situations of incapacity. It details preferences such as the denial of invasive procedures or the choice of palliative care, ensuring respect for the autonomy and dignity of the patient. How does this document work? How is it done? At Áltima we provide you with a complete guide on its purpose and the procedures to formalise your wishes if necessary.

Types of advance directives

There are two main types of advance directives: living wills and medical powers of attorney.

Living wills

A living will is an advance directive document that sets out a person's instructions or preferences for medical treatment in the event that they lose the capacity to make decisions. Fundamentally, it refers to terminal palliative care.

Medical powers of attorney

A medical power of attorney records in the advance directives registry the people who are authorised to make decisions for the patient in the event of incapacity, whether temporary or permanent. Its purpose is to enable authorised people to make decisions regarding healthcare when the patient is unable to do so on their own.

How do these documents work? Healthcare professionals are obliged to provide information to their patients about advance directives, as well as to consult your medical records and your relatives and representatives about your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event of incapacity.

How to make an advance directives declaration

The Advance Directive can be made before a notary or in a private document. It can be recorded on video, but the most common format is in writing. The creation of this document is essential to ensure that your medical preferences are respected in cases of incapacity. To be considered valid, it must be recorded in writing in the Registry of Advance Directives. How should it be written to be valid in the registry?

1. Header and personal data

Write a clear heading that identifies the document so that it is easy to understand that it contains your Advance Directive. Then add all your personal data, including your name, date of birth, DNI, address and phone number. Make sure this information is accurate and up-to-date.

2. Declaration of advance directives

In this section, clearly express your wishes regarding the medical treatments you want to receive in the future in case of incapacity. Detail your medical preferences, such as refusing cardiopulmonary resuscitation in specific situations or choosing palliative care over aggressive treatments. It is essential that your wishes are as specific and clear as possible to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

3. Appoint a representative

If you decide to appoint a legal health care representative, provide their full name and contact details. Make sure the designated person is willing to take this responsibility and understands your medical preferences. This person will act on your behalf if you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, so it should be someone you trust completely.

4. Medical instructions and organ and tissue donation wishes

Includes specific medical instructions. For example, you can express your wish to receive or reject certain treatments, such as surgery, mechanical ventilation, organ transplants, or dialysis. If you wish to be an organ or tissue donor, specify your preferences and make sure your representative and family are aware of this decision.

5. Religious considerations

If your medical preferences are influenced by your religious beliefs, it is important to mention this in your advance directive. Explicitly state how you wish your religious convictions to apply to medical care and treatment. This will help ensure that your beliefs are respected in the case that you cannot communicate.

6. Signature and witnesses

Finally, sign and date the advance directives document in the presence of witnesses (which are not necessary if you register it before a notary).

The witnesses must be of legal age and at least one of them must not be related to you (up to second degree of consanguinity) or be linked by a patrimonial relationship.

Remember that any person of legal age and full capacity can make his or her own Declaration of Advance Directives. And, for this document to be valid, you have to leave a record of it in the health system, which will happen when your declaration is registered in the Registry of Advance Living Wills of your autonomous community. As a result, if necessary, healthcare professionals will have access to this document in order to respect your autonomy and dignity as a patient in a totally confidential and secure manner.

If you receive private healthcare, it is advisable that you give a copy of this document to the medical centre where you usually receive care so that they can incorporate it into your medical record.

It is also important that you understand that you can revoke this document at any time and modify or cancel what is written within it. You will have to request an appointment at the Registry of Advance Vital Wills and, with your DNI card, carry out the appropriate steps. The new document replaces the previous one, so in the event of incapacity, the most recent one will always be taken into account.