Advance Directives

Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. (Science and Health, p 392:22)

There are times when we put off doing an important task. Like Jonah, we’d rather sail to the other side of the Mediterranean than complete the job that (in our hearts) we know we need to do. Creating an Advance Directive is one of those tasks that we may be reluctant to deal with. But like Jonah, if we stop and listen — each step will be directed and illumined for us. And also like Jonah, when our motives are to help and bless others Love leads the way.

Setting up an Advance Directive is a love-filled activity because it provides clear guidance for your friends or family. Also known as “advance health care planning,” it allows you to give legal direction that makes your wishes known about the type(s) of health care that you would (and would not) want should you become unable to speak for yourself.

All Christian Science and medical care facilities will request that you present a prepared copy of your directives or to sign their document(s) upon admission to their facility. Some visiting Christian Science nurse services and some independent, private-duty Christian Science nurses also request such documentation, so it is wise and loving to be prepared. Although the terminology can vary from state to state, there are three basic types of advance directives:

  • A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint someone to make financial decisions for you in the event of incapacity.
  • A Health Care Proxy (sometimes called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) is a legal document in which you appoint another person (called the “attorney” or “agent”) to make health care decisions for you by taking into account your views, wishes, values, and beliefs in the event you cannot speak for yourself.
  • A Living Will is a written document in which you state what kind of health care you want or do not want in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

The nature of advance directives, the terminology, and the requirements for clearly articulating your choice of health care do vary by state. Preparing these legal documents will require you to answer questions such as:

  • Who do you most trust to make decisions about your health?
  • What measures should they be able to take on your behalf?
  • What measures should they be prevented from taking?

Your answers to these questions are so important. For this reason, in addition to prayer, you should work with an attorney licensed in your state when developing your own health care planning documents.

If you are interested in including specific language describing the choice of Christian Science care in your advance directive, contact the legal department at The Mother Church for more information:

A list of important considerations from both a general and a Christian Science standpoint can be found in the first resource item in this section. Other resources include additional information on advance directives for health care and how and why to create them.

For help thinking through these ideas, please call Caring for Christian Scientists at 800.930.3797.


Christian Science Journal and Sentinel Articles

These additional articles are available with a subscription.

Do your own internet search to discover more possible resources. Go to Google, Bing, or other search engines, then type in terms like these:

  • what is an advance directive
  • what is the difference between power of attorney and financial power of attorney
  • why get a power of attorney
  • what does having a power of attorney mean
  • what are the reasons for health care planning
  • limitations of advanced care planning
  • power of attorney requirements by state

Learn more about how to perform an Internet search.

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