Making sure your end-of-life wishes are followed no matter where you happen to be is important. If you move to a different state or split your time between one or more states, you should make sure your advance directive is valid in all the states you frequent.
A medical advance directive gives instructions on the kind of medical care you would like to receive or who should speak for you if you become unable to express your wishes yourself. Each state has its own laws setting forth requirements for valid advance directives and health care proxies. For example, some states require two witnesses, other states require one witness, and some states do not require a witness at all.
Most states have provisions accepting an advance directive that was created in another state. But some states only accept advance directives from states that have similar requirements and other states do not say anything about out-of-state directives. States can also differ on what the terms in an advance directive mean. For example, some states may require specific authorization for certain life-sustaining procedures such as feeding tubes while other states may allow blanket authorization for all procedures.
To find out if your document will work in all the states where you live, consult with an attorney in the state. You may want to prepare documents for each state.
As for Alabama, health care directives prepared in other states are valid if they comply with Alabama law or the law of the state where created. Even if an out of state directive is honored, Alabama will not authorize the administration, withholding or withdrawal of health care if prohibited in Alabama. For instance, in Alabama a health care directive permits the agent to make all decisions the person who made the document could make but does not include psychosurgery, sterilization, abortion when not necessary to preserve the life of the principal, or involuntary hospitalization. Further, the advance directive for healthcare of a patient who is known by the attending physician to be pregnant shall have no effect during the course of the patient’s pregnancy.
Even if you have a valid out of state directive, consider that research may be needed during an emergency to determine whether the out of state document is valid under the laws of the state where prepared since medical professionals will not know without further investigation. This is why creating a document which complies with the law of each state may be the most straightforward solution.