An advance healthcare directive or simply advance directive is a written legal statement that tells others about the healthcare one would like to have if one is not in good health. The directive is a living will, relieving family members of the burden of making difficult decisions for you. Specifically, it provides doctors and family members with a clear indication of your preferences if you cannot decide on your own, e.g., falling into a coma.
How to make an advance directive?
The advance directive should be made in the presence of two witnesses. Among the witnesses, one should be a medical doctor, and neither should have any interest in your estate; they should not stand to gain anything from your estate.
The Hospital Authority provides patients with advance directive forms (click here
) to fill in. The documents cover three cases:
1. Terminally ill;
2. Persistent vegetative state or a state of irreversible coma;
3. Other end-stage irreversible life-limiting conditions.
Is an advance directive legally binding?
They are recognised under common law in Hong Kong, but no legislation currently governs them. To ensure that your directive is carried out smoothly, provide a copy to your family members, lawyer and attorney/trustee, if any, in addition to your healthcare professionals.
When should I make an advance directive?
Anyone 18 and above who can make their own healthcare decisions are free to make an advance directive. We encourage you to do so if you fit the requirements. The older you are, the more critical these directives are. However, we urge you to seek legal advice and discuss the matter with your families first.