Making sure your end-of-life wishes are followed no matter where you happen to be is important. If you move to a different state or split your time between one or more states, you should make sure your advance directive is valid in all the states you frequent.
An advance directive gives instructions on the kind of medical care you would like to receive should you become unable to express your wishes yourself, and it often designates someone to make medical decisions for you. The advance directive comes into effect at end of life — commonly after two independent physicians have determined that you have an end-stage or terminal condition (or are in a persistent vegetative state) and that no medical probability of recovery exists. Each state has its own laws setting forth requirements for valid advance directives and health care proxies. For example, some states require two witnesses, other states require one witness, and some states do not require a witness at all.
Accepting Out-of-State Advance Directives
Most states, though, have provisions accepting an advance care directive that was created in another state. But some states only accept advance care directives from states that have similar requirements and other states do not say anything about out-of-state directives. States can also differ on what the terms in an advance directive mean. For example, some states may require specific authorization for certain life-sustaining procedures such as feeding tubes while other states may allow blanket authorization for all procedures.
Being Prepared for Emergencies
A bigger issue, of course, is that most people do not travel with a copy of their advance directive in their pocket. McCreary Law Office tries to help clients with that issue by enrolling all new estate planning clients with a company that stores all healthcare documents electronically. Clients are provided a card for their wallet. In case of an emergency, those important planning pieces can be accessed by emergency personnel if you wind up in a hospital away from home.
Being Prepared for the Expected
If you do frequently spend time in another state, it is not a bad idea to make sure your directives work in both of those states. To find out if your document will work in all the states where you live, consult with an attorney in each state. You might also talk to your estate planning lawyer who could consult with an attorney in the other state.