Advance Directives

Your right to use advance directives (such as a living will or a power of attorney)

You have the right to ask someone such as a family member or friend to help you with decisions about your health care. Sometimes, people become unable to make health care decisions for themselves due to accidents or serious illness. If you want to, you can use a special form to give someone the legal authority to make decisions for you if you ever become unable to make decisions for yourself. You also have the right to give your doctors written instructions about how you want them to handle your medical care if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. The legal documents that you can use to give your directions in advance in these situations are called “advance directives.”

There are different types of advance directives and different names for them. Documents called “living will” and “power of attorney for health care” are examples of advance directives. If you want to have an advance directive, you can get a form by clicking the link below. You can also get a form from your lawyer, from a social worker, or from some office supply stores. You can sometimes get advance directive forms from organizations that give people information about Medicare. Regardless of where you get this form, keep in mind that it is a legal document. You should consider having a lawyer help you prepare it. It is important to sign this form and keep a copy at home. You should give a copy of the form to your doctor and to the person you name on the form as the one to make decisions for you if you can’t. You may want to give copies to close friends or family members as well.

If you know ahead of time that you are going to be hospitalized, and you have signed an advance directive, take a copy with you to the hospital. If you are admitted to the hospital, they will ask you whether you have signed an advance directive form and whether you have it with you. If you have not signed an advance directive form, the hospital has forms available and will ask if you want to sign one.

Remember, it is your choice whether you want to fill out an advance directive (including whether you want to sign one if you are in the hospital). According to law, no one can deny you care or discriminate against you based on whether or not you have signed an advance directive. If you have signed an advance directive, and you believe that a doctor or hospital hasn’t followed the instructions in it, you may file a complaint with: Advance Directives (see below).

Download your state's Advance Directives Form on the Caring Connections website.

To see the Advance Directives Information sheet, please go the Member Materials and Forms page.

Advance Directives Complaints

For complaints regarding physicians, click here.

For complaints regarding a health care facility, click here.