Advanced Directives

What is an advance directive?

Advance directives are documents that state how you want medical decisions made if you lose the ability to make them for yourself. The documents include:

Learn more about advance directives in our FAQ. When you're ready to create one, follow the guidelines below.

Guidelines for completing an advance directive

We encourage you to discuss your treatment choices with your primary care physician, your designated patient advocate and members of your family.

  1. Talk with your doctor about the kinds of treatment decisions you might need to make in the future.
  2. Complete the Patient’s Advance Directive form (PDF) to identify the treatments you want and those you don’t. You can also write additional instructions on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the form.
  3. Identify a person you trust to speak on your behalf if you become unable to express your decisions about health care. This person — your patient advocate — will work with your doctors to make the decisions you would make for yourself if you could. The person you appoint as your advocate must acknowledge his or her rights and responsibilities by signing the Acceptance by Patient Advocate form (PDF).
  4. Complete the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care form (PDF). You don’t need an attorney. However, you may want to consult your personal attorney or an attorney experienced in probate law or elder law, especially if you do not use a preprinted form.
  5. Sign the form in the presence of two witnesses and ask them to sign it.
  6. Give a copy of the form to your primary care physician, your patient advocate, your personal attorney and anyone else who might be affected by your decision to have an advance directive. If you enter a nursing home or hospital, make sure it has a copy too. Keep your copy of your advance directive in a safe place where it can easily be found.