Advance Directives

What are Advance Directives? Why do I need one?

Happy Customers

Advance Directives

Your Advance Directives (sometimes mistakenly called your "Advanced Directives") are your expression of the types of healthcare treatment you wish to receive if you are ever in an irreversible condition and unable to speak for yourself.

What exactly are advance directives?

An Advance Directive provides instructions for your future healthcare. You should write them when you are healthy, to come into effect when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. The Advance Directive is sometimes referred to as a "Living Will" and we provide this document under our MyLivingWill™ service.

It should not be confused with your Last Will and Testament, that only comes into effect after you have died. The Advance Directive is in effect only when you are alive.

Why is an Advance Directive important?

Your Advance Directive will give guidance on the types of medical treatment you wish to receive. It takes the decision-making away from your family and loved ones. If you become seriously ill, you may lose the ability to participate in decisions about your own treatment, so providing this guidance is a tremendous help to your loved ones.

Living Will

A Living Will is another name for your Advance Directives, and generally states the kind of medical care you want (or do not want) if you become unable to make your own decisions. It is called a Living Will because it takes effect while you are still living.

Here at, we take care of the Advance Directive for you, through our MyLivingWill™ service.

A "Living Will" goes by many different names. Some examples are: "personal directive", "health care directive", "advance health care directive", or just simply "advance directives". However, it is distinct and different to any Lasting Power of Attorney document.

Regardless of what you call it, the MyLivingWill™ service will format a legal document that allows you to express your wishes for healthcare if you are ever unable to speak for yourself.

Will my wishes be honoured if I am not in South Africa?

The law on honouring an advance directive from one country to another is inconsistent. However, because your advance directive discusses your wishes regarding medical care, it may be honoured wherever you are, if you make it known that you have an advance directive. But if you spend a great deal of time outside of South Africa, you may wish to consider having your advance directive meet the laws of your new home if possible.

Is it a requirement to prepare an Advance Directive?

No, there is no legal requirement to prepare an Advance Directive. You can also prepare one, and then destroy it, or make changes to it at any time.

If you wish to cancel an advance directive while you are in the hospital, you should notify your doctor, your family, and others who may need to know. Even if you do not formally change your advance directive in writing, your wishes stated in person directly to your doctor generally carry more weight than your written document, as long as you are considered to be competent when expressing your wishes.

Make sure that someone, such as your lawyer or a family member, knows that you have an advance directive and knows where it is located. You might also consider the following:
  • Ask your GP to make your advance directive part of your permanent medical record.
  • Keep a copy of your advance directive in a safe place where it can be found easily.
  • Consider creating Keyholders® at and grant them access to your MyLivingWill™ service.
  • Keep a small card in your purse or wallet stating that you have an advance directive, where it is located and who your agent or proxy is, if you have named one. allows you to order wallet cards specifically for this purpose.

Is an Advance Directive right for me?

Your Advance Directive serves two key roles. Firstly, it can make your doctor aware of the medical treatment you wish to receive, particularly with respect to "end-of-life" care. These are very personal decisions and should ideally be made when you are healthy and competent.

In addition, by making these decisions yourself, you spare your family the anxiety and trauma that can be associated with making these decisions on behalf of a loved one. Many people create Lasting Powers of Attorney without explaining to their appointee what types of treatment they wish to receive. This is the role of your Advance Directives.

What They Say About Us