Most people are familiar with Advance Directives, which are also known as Living Wills. With an Advance Directive, you appoint someone to make medical decisions after you have become incapacitated; and you provide instructions to your physician as to the type of treatment you wish to receive when you reach the end stage of a terminal condition or when you enter persistent vegetative state.
Treatment options include: (1) keep me comfortable and allow a natural death to occur; do not provide medical intervention; and do not provide me with nutrition and fluids; (2) keep me comfortable and allow a natural death to occur; do not provide medical intervention; but provide me with nutrition and fluids; and (3) try to extend my life as long as possible and provide me with nutrition and fluids.
What most people do not know is that the Maryland Advance Directive contains your instructions as to what happens to your body after you die.
In Part I, you decide whether or not to donate specified organs and how your organs will be used (transplantation, research, therapy, or education).
In Part II, you decide whether or not to donate your body to medical science.
In Part III of the Advance Directive, you appoint someone (usually your health care agent) to make decisions concerning funeral arrangements and the disposition of your body, assuming you do not have a pre-paid funeral plan or a burial plot. Without such instructions, Maryland Health Occupations Code 7-410 provides who will make these decisions: (1) your surviving spouse (or domestic partner); (2) if there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner, then your next of kin will make the decision in the following order: (a) adult child; (b) parent; and (c) sibling.