Welcome To Voice Your Choice Anytime is a good time to complete an advance care plan. Whether you are 18 or 108, completing an advance care plan can make sure that your wishes are known, even when you can't speak for yourself.
To start your advance care plan, think about what is important to you, including your wishes and values. You may not be able to predict every choice you will have to make, but you can start to share your wishes with those who matter most. These discussions can help you clarify what you want and don’t want for care if you were unable to speak for yourself.
Once you have determined your wishes and values, write them down in an advance care plan and determine who will speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself (your health care agent). Voice Your Choice offers access to free educational resources and free online advance care planning that will make your plan easier to complete and more accessible in an emergency. When you have finished your advance care plan, be sure to share that information with your health care agent, those who matter most to you, and your health care providers.
Remember, you don’t need to make all your decisions at once. Advance care planning is a process and you can change your mind and update your plan at any time.
"Coming soon! Voice Your Choice is excited to be creating new tools to support you in advance care planning. These materials are highlighted in orange!"
New to advance care planning? Need help to start or complete your advance care plan? Wonder how to make your existing plan easier to find in an emergency? These webinars and guides provide the information you need and detailed step-by-step instructions.
Advance Care Planning Webinars & Guides
These short “mini” webinars provide you with information and tools to prepare or upload your advance care plan.
Advance care planning is thinking about, and documenting, your preferences about the care and medical treatments that you want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. These choices are based on your values and what is important to you. Advance care planning includes choosing someone who will speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. This person is called a health care agent. Advance care planning also includes documenting your care choices in advance of a health care emergency so that your doctors and those who matter most to you can honor your preferences if you are not able to speak for yourself.
What is the difference between advance care planning and an advance directive?
Advance care planning is a process where you think about your values and preferences and then document those preference in a completed plan. The written document when completed is often called an “advance directive” or “living will.” There are two parts to completing an advance care plan: 1) selecting and naming your health care agent(s); and 2) documenting your preferences for care and medical treatments.
What is the benefit of creating an online advance care plan?
Unlike a paper plan, an online advance care plan does not need to be with the person in an emergency. Online advance care plans created through Voice Your Choice are stored electronically on a secure site and are available to your doctors, as well as all hospitals in Maryland. If you are transported to another facility for care, your online advance care plan is also accessible to those other health care facilities. If you experience an emergency and do not have your paper advance care plan with you, your doctors and loved ones may not know your health care preferences.
Who can be my health care agent?
In Maryland, a health care agent must be at least 18 years and old and cannot be your doctor. Aside from those two requirements, anyone who you feel can speak for you during a health care crisis can be your health care agent. You can designate your health care agent to be your spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, someone from your house of worship, or whoever you trust to speak for you. Your health care agent should be someone who knows you well and understands your wishes. Health care agents cannot make any financial decisions on your behalf. For more information, please see “How to Choose a Health Care Agent” fact sheet on the website.
Do I need a backup for my health care agent?
You can pick just one person to be your health care agent, but it is a good idea to choose a second person as a backup. Your primary health care agent may become sick, be traveling or otherwise unable to advocate for you. Having a second or even third health care agent that can step in can make sure that there will be someone to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
How does the medical team access my online advance care plan in a medical crisis?
In Maryland, health care providers can access your online advance care plan through a secure “health information exchange system” called CRISP. CRISP allows hospitals and health care providers to have easy access to your advance care plan in an emergency and makes your plan mobile across different types of care settings.
What is the difference between an advance care plan and a MOLST?
An advance care plan (sometimes called an advance directive or living will) is a legal document that provides general information about what type of care and treatments an individual would want in the future if they cannot speak for themselves. An advance care plan also includes designating a health care agent who will speak on your behalf if you become unable to communicate during a medical emergency. It is a good idea for all adults to have an advance care plan.
The Maryland MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatments) form is a medical order for specific health care treatments an individual would want such as CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation), intubation, or dialysis. A doctor completes and signs a MOLST form. MOLST forms are appropriate for individuals with a severe illness or frailty nearing the end-of-life and must be followed in all medical settings and by emergency medical services personnel. Maryland law requires that a MOLST form must also be completed for all individuals admitted to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, home health care, and dialysis centers, as well as hospital inpatients being discharge to another hospital or any of the above programs.
Will my advance care plan and wishes be honored if I go out of state or what if I do not live in Maryland?
The online platform that Voice Your Choice uses is accessible to 75% of US hospitals, 70,000 medical groups, and 5,200 dialysis centers in the US. If you are traveling, there is a good chance that a provider will be able to access your online advance care plan. Just in case, we recommend that you also carry a “wallet card” as a backup. The wallet card can be found on the online platform home page and printed.
I'm young and healthy so why do I need an advance care plan?
People of all ages may unexpectedly be in a position where they cannot speak for themselves (for example: accidents, serious illness, surgeries, and outbreaks like COVID-19). These situations impact everyone - regardless of age. Having an advance care plan ensures that your doctor and loved ones know your wishes and the kind of care you want if you cannot speak for yourself.
Can advance care plans include information regarding cultural or religious beliefs?
Absolutely! There is a section on the Voice Your Choice online platform dedicated to capturing your cultural and religious beliefs. These beliefs can be reflected as you make choices about your preferences for care and medical treatments.
Can I indicate that I am an organ and tissue donor in an online advance care plan?
Yes, you can. The Voice Your Choice online platform provides an opportunity to share your thoughts on organ and tissue donation.
Do I need to have an attorney to prepare an advance care plan for me?
It is not required that you get an attorney to help you prepare an advance care plan. However, some people do choose this option. The Voice Your Choice online platform is a resource that will guide you through the process of selecting your health care agent and help you identify your values and preferences. The Voice Your Choice online platform can also be used to upload an existing advance care plan created by attorneys (or by individuals) and MOLST forms.
What if I change my mind about what I want after completing the online advance care plan?
The online advance care plan is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unlike paper advance care plans that you must destroy and recreate if you make any changes, online advance care plans allow you to make changes at any time. If you have uploaded a paper advance care plan to the online platform, you can still make changes by following a few extra steps.
Does the Voice Your Choice online advance care plan need to be witnessed and notarized?
No. The online advance care plan that you complete on the Voice Your Choice platform does not require a witness or a notary to be valid. However, you will need to validate your identity. You will need your legal name (no nicknames), your address, date of birth, and an item to confirm your identity. This can be your phone number, credit card number or social security number. If you feel uncomfortable sharing that type of information you can choose the “Opt Out” button and still be able to sign and finalize your online advance care plan.
What is the difference between a health care agent and a financial power of attorney?
A health care agent is a person you select and give permission to make health care decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself. Your health care agent can oversee your medical care and advocate for your health care choices according to your advance care plan. A financial power of attorney gives the person you select the authority to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. A financial power of attorney will allow the person you designate access to your financial accounts so that they can pay your bills and other financial obligations if you are unable to do so yourself.
How do I talk to my doctor about my health care wishes?
Set up a visit with your doctor to discuss your health care wishes. We suggest you use the questions found on the Voice Your Choice online platform to guide the conversation. Be sure to ask your doctor about what health care treatments relate to you and let your doctor know who your health care agent is and how to contact that person.
Who will have access to my online advance care plan?
If you live in Maryland, your online advance care plan can be accessed by health care providers through Maryland’s “health information exchange” called CRISP. The Voice Your Choice online platform also gives you the option to grant access to your online advance care plan to others such as your health care agent and those who matter most to you. The Voice Your Choice online platform is very secure and is “HITRUST CSF” certified for data protection.
Can I upload my paper advance care plan to the online platform?
Yes, you can. the Voice Your Choice platform also provides you the opportunity to upload, store, and share other documents such as a MOLST, personal papers, notes to loved ones, or videos.