As of January, 2007, the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will are both part of a single form entitled the "New Hampshire Advance Directive".
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document by which you nominate an agent to make all health care decisions for you when you are not capable of making those decisions for yourself. In this document, you must specifically indicate whether you give your agent the authority to make the decision whether to discontinue life-sustaining treatment. There is also a statement which would permit your agent to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated and object to treatment.
Your health care provider will contact your health care agent for guidance only if you are unable to give direction about your health care. Your agent has the duty to make decisions in accordance with your wishes if those wishes are known. If your wishes are not known, your agent must act in your best interest and in accordance with accepted medical practices. As long as you remain competent, you may revoke the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care at any time.
A Living Will is a document by which you make known your wish that you do not want to be placed on artificial life support systems if you are certified by two physicians, or, as of January 2007, by one physician and one advanced registered nurse practitioner, to be terminally ill or permanently unconscious. Within the document, you also expressly state whether you want food or liquid to be given to you by artificial means if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
Your health care provider will rely on your Living Will only if you are unable to express your wishes at the appropriate time, and your health care agent is unavailable to act on your behalf.
The Dartmouth Dementia Directive is a supplemental document that may be used in conjunction with, and not as a replacement for, the standard New Hampshire Advance Directive. This document is designed to address the gradual loss in decision-making ability which is associated with dementia.