Advance directives come in two main forms:
A "healthcare power of attorney" (or "proxy" or "agent" or "surrogate") documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
A "living will" documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.
The links and resources below explore a variety of resources to help make, discuss and document future healthcare wishes and decisions
AARP features an End-of-Life Planning resource center with perspectives on starting advance care planning discussions, facilitating discussions with adult children about end of life planning, frequently asked questions and considerations for siblings planning care for parents.
MyDirectives.com, a service of ADVault, Inc., is a free online platform that allows consumers to digitize your voices and treatment priorities in a comprehensive legal advance care plan that is secure in the cloud and available 24/7 anywhere in the world to you, your loved ones and your medical providers. MyDirectives also features a Discussion Guide and Conversation Starters to help people have discussions with doctors, family and healthcare agents. The new MyDirectives MOBILE App makes users’ emergency advance care plans accessible even when their iPhones are locked.
The Five Wishes document helps individuals express care options and preferences. The advance directive meets the legal requirements in most states and is available in 20 languages for a nominal fee. Order online or call 850.681.2010.
The American Hospital Association has advance care planning resources from some states hospital associations and a Put It In Writing brochure for patients and families to document their wishes.
- How to Select Your Health Care Agent or Proxy
- Are Some Conditions Worse than Death?
- How Do You Weigh Odds of Survival?
- Personal Priorities and Spiritual Values Important to Your Medical Decisions
- After Death Decisions to Think About Now
- Conversation Scripts: Getting Past the Resistance
- The Proxy Quiz for Family & Physician
- What to Do After Signing Your Health Care Advance Directive
- Guide for Health Care Proxies
- Resources: Advance Planning for Health Care
Facilitating a fantastic campaign and resources, this Advance Care Planning Day initiative helps people learn how to make an advance care plan, start advance care planning with others, provides Advance Care Planning Workbooks, and has definitions to common terms used in advance care planning. They are also the creators of the widely appreciated Speak Up video.
CaringInfo, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, offers free, state-specific advance directives for all 50 states and DC that meet the legal requirements for each state. Download individual copies for free or call 800.658.8898 to have a copy mailed to you. Also access resources for advance care planning, caregiving, grief, hospice, pain and palliative care.
Caring Conversations is a workbook to help individuals and families communicate with each other about their healthcare preferences and contains advance directive documents. These forms are valid in every state when notarized and signed by two witnesses. Download free resources, the Caring Conversations Workbook or call 800.344.3829 to order.
The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. They are focused on generating conversations about healthcare wishes with family members and ensuring individuals have thought through what they want at the end of life.
Deathwise is passionate about motivating people to talk about, make decisions, plan for the end of their lives and then documenting their wishes in an advance directive to ensure their preferences are communicated to their medical services providers, family and friends. Wise Conversations provides trained coaches to meet with and guide small groups of people through conversations about clarifying choices and the process of completing advance directives. Deathwise also provides free State-Specific Advance Directives.
Engage with Grace is a movement with the goal to help people discuss what's important to them so their end of life experience just as purposeful as the way in which they live their lifes. Their movement calls on people to engage in a blog rally every Thanksgiving and also has a call to action to participate in their One Slide project. The One Slide features just five questions designed to get the conversation about end of life care started with loved ones.
Everplans provides guides, resources and a platform to help you create a plan that contains everything your loved ones will need if something happens to you. Their site includes Checklists & Free State-Specific Advance Directives.
Coda Alliance has a "Go Wish Game," a card game that is a simple way to think and talk about what's important to individuals and their family members if someone becomes seriously ill.
LastingMatters helps any adult, at any age, compile, document and clearly communicate important information, intentions and wishes. The LastingMatters Organizer is a practical and comprehensive planning guide helping to reduce the costs, time, stress and family pressures associated with the death of a loved one.
The Lifecare Advance Directive website offers free state-standard advance directives for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four major United States territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). Research validated comprehensive advance directives, as well as completion guides, agent guides, and other important advance directive support documents are also available.
Making Your Wishes Known is an evidence-based, multimedia, online tool for advance care planning. It provides tailored education about common medical conditions that can result in decisional incapacity, as well as medical treatments often introduced in life or death situations. The program guides individuals to choose a spokesperson, prioritize values and goals, and match treatment options with priorities, and is unique in its use of a decision aid to translate individual values and preferences into a detailed advance directive document.
The MedicAlert Foundation offers emergency medical information and identification services including Do Not Resuscitate medical IDs and option to store advance directives for all 50 states.
My Gift of Grace is a conversation game for living and dying well. Designed as a fun, engaging way to start conversations with any group, the game is a tool suitable for players at all life stages.
The My Healthcare Wishes App is a smartphone application for storing advance directives and other important health information.
National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives offers general and state-specific information on psychiatric advance directives.
The National POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) Paradigm is an approach to end-of-life planning based on goals of care conversations between patients, loved ones, and health care professionals designed to ensure that seriously ill or frail patients can choose the treatments they want or do not want and that their wishes are documented and honored; the website includes videos about POLST and patient stories.
PREPARE also referred to as PREPARE For Your Care, is an interactive website serving as a resource for families navigating medical decision making. A printable pamphlet with tips by PREPARE is available here.
The Will to Live Projectprovides state specific forms for designating an agent and stating healthcare wishes.
Additional State Specific Resources
- American Bar Association's Tool kit for Health Care Advance Planning & 10 Legal Myths about Advance Medical Directive
- American Health Lawyers Association
Organ Donation Resources
The links to the various resources are provided as a convenience. NHDD does not specifically endorse any particular resource. Furthermore, you should check the specific legal rules in your state if you elect to use any national resources. If you have a content edit request or suggestion, please reach out to us here.