Advance directives are legal instructions that include a living will (different from a regular will) and a health care proxy. In them, you state what treatments you do or don’t want at the end of your life and who you want making health care decisions for you if you can’t.
Putting together an advance directive was part of my estate and end-of-life planning this year.
Below are resources I used to help me prepare my advance directive:
Advance directive forms
This is what you fill out to make your wishes known. Depending on your state, the living will and health care proxy forms might be separate, or they might be combined into one document. A list of forms by state is available here.
Here is a card you can print out and include in your wallet with info about your advance directive
Questions I asked myself
I found these two sets of worksheets helpful for figuring out my own wishes and clarifying them to my health care proxy.
In addition to using them to help me fill out my advance directive, I also used them to create separate guidance documents, which are not legally binding, for the person who I named my health care proxy. These include my personal priorities and examples of how I have made medical decisions in the past. I also printed out some of the pages from the worksheets with my responses to different hypothetical medical situations.
Information about life support treatments
I found these resources helpful for evaluating when I may or may not want life support treatments.
Questions I’d like asked on my behalf if I can’t ask them myself
These documents provide examples of the types of questions I would like my health care proxy to ask on my behalf if I can’t ask them myself. I included these links as a resource for him.
Photo by Jo Naylor, CC BY 2.0.
Director, Consumer Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Mike directs U.S. PIRG’s national campaign to protect consumers on Wall Street and in the financial marketplace by defending the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and works for stronger privacy protections and corporate accountability in the wake of the Equifax data breach. Mike lives in Washington, D.C.