What happens if you have no advance directive or have made no plans and you become unable to speak for yourself? In such cases, the state where you live will assign someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. This will probably be your spouse, your parents if they are available, or your children if they are adults. If you have no family members, the state will choose someone to represent your best interests.
Always remember: an advance directive is only used if you are in danger of dying and need certain emergency or special measures to keep you alive, but you are not able to make those decisions on your own. An advance directive allows you to make your wishes about medical treatment known.
It is difficult to predict the future with certainty. You may never face a medical situation where you are unable to speak for yourself and make your wishes known. But having an advance directive may give you and those close to you some peace of mind.
Advance Directive Wallet Card
You might want to make a card to carry in your wallet indicating that you have an advance directive and where it is kept. Here is an example of the wallet card offered by the American Hospital Association. You might want to print this to fill out and carry with you. A PDF can be found online (PDF, 40 KB).