Healthcare advance directives are legal forms where you can share your future healthcare and end-of-life care wishes with medical professionals and family members or friends. In recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, we’ve outlined steps and resources for you to use when planning your own advance directive.
What forms do I need?
Healthcare advance directive forms can include living wills, which specify medical treatment preferences. They might also include Powers of Attorney (POA) or Proxy designation, which assigns healthcare decision-making authority to an individual trusted by you. Some healthcare advance directives also include a Do Not Resuscitate order.
Do I need a lawyer?
While healthcare advance directives can be completed without the assistance of an attorney, you might still want to consult one. Free and
low-cost resources are available from the providers listed below. Keep in mind that an attorney can customize your preferences, whereas many of these forms are templates. Also, because advance directives are governed under state law, an attorney may be able to craft a form that better meets your preferences.
Check out the steps and resources below to help you stay the course.
This process can be unclear and complex! Take a deep breath. To help you get started, we’ve highlighted key steps and resources to better assist you.
GET YOUR STATE’S FORMS & START FILLING THEM OUT
- Check out this comprehensive guide for a detailed summary of what Advance Care Directives are:
Next Step in Care’s Advance Directives: A Family Caregivers Guide.
Writing Advance Directives
- Free forms (for all 50 states and DC) are available from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Download Your State’s Advance Directives.
- Low-cost forms (recognized in 42 states and DC) are available from Aging with Dignity. Forms are available in multiple languages via Five Wishes here.
- Free forms that comply with Jewish religious law (for multiple states) are available from the website
IDENTIFY YOUR PROXY & WITNESSES (WHEN NECESSARY)
- Conversation Starter Kit, by the Conversation Project provides guidance on talking with loved ones about end-of-life preferences. The Kit is available in multiple languages.
- How to Choose a Health Care Proxy & How to Be a Health Care Proxy, by the Conversation Project, is available in multiple languages here.
- Giving Someone a Power of Attorney for Your Healthcare, by the American Bar Association is available in Spanish.
- Take the Power: Tools for Life and Financial Planning, by Lambda Legal. Written for an LGBT audience, the PDF includes a section on selecting health care POA’s.
Guidance for Those Assigned to Be Health Care POA or Proxy
- Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else: A How-To Guide, by the American Bar Association.
KEEP COPIES & DISTRIBUTE THEM TO THE APPROPRIATE PERSONS
- Advance directives & long-term care: What to do with your advance directives from Medicare.gov.
UPDATE YOUR ADVANCE DIRECTIVE WHEN NECESSARY
- What to Do After Signing Your Health Care Advance Directive, by the American Bar Association.
All of us at Iona firmly believe in the importance of preparing an advance directive and designating a healthcare decision-maker should you no longer be able to make decisions on your own. We’re here to help you! If you have additional questions, please contact our Helpline at (202) 895-9448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.