Advance Directives

Mother and daughter having advance care planning discussion with physician


Formal advance directives are documents written in advance of serious illness that state your choices for health care, or name someone to make those choices if you become unable to make decisions. Through advance directives, such as living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical treatment.

A living will is a document in which you can stipulate the kind of life-prolonging medical care you want if you become terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or in a vegetative state and unable to make your own decisions.

A durable power of attorney for health care is another kind of advance directive: a signed, dated, and witnessed document naming another person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself at any time, not just at the end of life.

You may download a form from Brookings Health System below. Other sources include:

Caring Connections 
National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization 
1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 625 
Alexandria, VA 22314 

American Hospital Association

Aging with Dignity