what is dnr

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What is a DNR and How Does it Affect Your Estate Plan?

Do you or do you not want a DNR? This is a decision you’ll have to make when completing your Will. We’ll help you out by reviewing the pros and cons.

If you have strong feelings, for whatever reason, about how much medical intervention you would want in the event of serious illness, injury or incapacitation, including a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) directive via documents like an Advance Directive (also known as a Healthcare Directive) is a wise choice. 

Wondering what does Do Not Resuscitate mean or how to get a DNR? Read on, as we cover everything you need to know about this important component of any Estate Plan. We’re looking at Do Not Resuscitate form pros and cons and more, including:

What is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order? 

Also commonly referred to as “no code,“ a DNR is simply an advance directive document you create to give your loved ones and medical doctors clear direction about your preferences on intervention. A DNR explicitly states how extensive you want medical intervention to be by making it known you do not want CPR or other procedures performed if your heart stops.

A DNR could go into effect if you are ever:

  • Seriously injured

  • In a coma

  • Have severe dementia

  • Are seriously injured


Traditionally known as Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), the American Heart Association changed their language in 2005 to what is now known as Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR). The new verbiage was intended to reduce any implication or gray area should resuscitation likely be successful. Another common term used is AND, which stands for Allow Natural Death, and this terminology can sometimes be used for even more clarity. 

While it was changed more than a decade and a half ago, most hospitals and medical facilities still commonly use DNR.

How Does a DNR Work? 

DNRs work by creating a legal document while you are of sound mind that clearly states what your wishes are. Without an Advance Directive in place, should medical intervention be needed, doctors will perform any and all aggressive measures to revive you if your heart and natural breathing stops. A DNR only takes effect if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate how much intervention you want. That said, it’s clear how important it is that you prepare this document in advance, if your wishes are to limit extreme medical intervention. 

Who Should Have a DNR Order? 

The decision to include a DNR in your Advance Directive is extremely personal, and there are Do Not Resuscitate form pros and cons you should consider before you complete the process. Some people are so absolutely sure they would not want any extreme measures towards resuscitation be taken, they even go so far as to get a Do Not Resuscitate tattoo, or they may wear a Do Not Resuscitate bracelet.

If you are adamant about this decision, formally creating a DNR is a good way to ensure your strong feelings are respected and your wishes are followed. Of course, if you are in the condition that would put a DNR in effect, keep in mind that you would be unable to communicate if you changed your mind. This, in and of itself, is the biggest drawback to a DNR.

Can I Change My Mind? 

DNRs are included in your Advanced Directive or Living Will and will be noted in your medical records if you’re ever admitted to a hospital for any type of care. They’re completely revocable, and you can change your mind at any time, as long as you are coherent and conscious. But remember (and it’s worth saying again), by the point a DNR would be an option, you would no longer be able to express any wishes otherwise.  

How to Get a DNR 

Getting a DNR is simple, especially if you use a trusted Estate Planning service like Trust & Will. When you use Trust & Will, included with your Will is a Living Will (Advanced Healthcare Directive), and this legal form, prepared by Estate Planning attorneys and experts, is where you can legally state whether or not you want a DNR. You will appoint a Medical POA, who would do his or her best to follow the instructions set forth in your Living Will. 

Deciding to include a DNR in your Living Will is not a decision any of us come to lightly. But if you have strong feelings about the type of care you would want to receive under certain circumstances, including a DNR might very well be a decision you come to. A DNR can give you the control and power to make final decisions about your healthcare that may not otherwise be honored. 

Learn more about how Trust & Will makes the Estate Planning process simple and quick, so your wishes will be in writing and honored when the time comes. Create your Living Will today - it has never been easier!

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