An Advance Directive for Health Care detail the type of health care you do or do not want when you can’t make decisions for yourself. You should also appoint someone who can legally act on your behalf to make sure your wishes are carried out.
States have specific forms for these documents so health care professionals can easily recognize the document’s purpose. To make things more confusing, states use various terms to describe their advance directive forms. For your specific state, visit our Advance Directives For Health Care by State webpage or click the state name in the table at the bottom of this page.
What is an advance directive for health care?
- A living will alerts medical professionals and your family to the treatments you want to receive or refuse. In most states this document only spring into effect if you meet specific medical criteria and are unable to make decisions.
- In a health care power of attorney (or health care proxy) you select the family member or trusted friend you want to make health care decisions for you when you unable to do so. In this document you should give directions to the person you select as your spokesperson (or health care agent or proxy) about the full range of care you want. It is very important that you talk about your health care wishes with the person to whom you giving the legal authority.
The Advance Healthcare Directive forms listed below can be used in most states. These are generic forms and are generally easier to complete than the forms provided by states. For the advance directive for health for your state, click the state name in the chart further down the page.