Through an advance directive, you can designate someone to act as your health care proxy to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Advance directives also provide important guidance to your doctors on matters such as pain management and whether you want resuscitation. But your directive may not serve you if the right people do not have a copy. 

If your doctors do not know your wishes, you may receive treatment that you do not want. It may even invite litigation between your family members as to how to treat you. Kiplinger provides some suggestions to share an advance directive so that it ends up in the proper hands. 

Making and sharing copies

Once you have created your advance directive, you should make many copies of it and distribute them to the people who need them, including your family members and your health care providers. Also keep a copy on you in your wallet or your automobile. 

In addition, make your advance directive available in digital and electronic form so that your doctor or hospital may access your directive by electronic means. Methods of storing medical records will differ by state and electronic system, so consider keeping a physical copy of your directive on you in case your hospital cannot access your record in a timely fashion. 

Keeping a copy on your refrigerator

A medical emergency at home can happen suddenly, incapacitating you and making it impossible for you to communicate with a paramedic team. Consider taping a copy of your directive on your refrigerator. Part of paramedic training is to check refrigerators for do-not-resuscitate orders, so you stand a chance that paramedics might find your directive there if they should have to come to your home. 

Double-checking during treatment

You want to be sure your doctors and caregivers have a copy of your directive as you go through complicated medical treatment. Doctors and nurses at one stage of treatment may have your directive, but doctors or surgeons at a later stage may not. For example, a hospital might move you to a different floor, but not all of your documents may go with you. Ask your relatives to keep tabs on your directive and other paperwork if you are unable to do so.