Document advance medical directives

Plan for the Future

An advanced medical directive might also be referred to as a living will.

An advanced medical directive documents your personal preferences regarding end of life care. This includes preferences on life-sustaining treatments, organ donation, and do not resuscitate orders.

Life-sustaining preferences:

  • Written by a physician, a POLST documents an agreed to end-of-life care plan
  • Its goal is to easily convey to any healthcare professional what medical treatment to carry out no matter the circumstance
  • These documents must be signed by both physicians and patients and are typically provided by the patient's healthcare provide

Organ Donation Preferences:

  • After a death, certain organs can be donated to those in need by
  • They can be donated by all people of all ages and varied medical history
  • To donate, register with your state, which adds your name to a database which will be reviewed by medical professional in the event of a death

Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR):

  • During a health emergency, medical professionals may help a patient whose heart has stopped or who has stopped breathing
  • A DNR is a directive that tells these professionals to not intervene in case of emergency
  • Once this document is drafted by an attorney, the order is added to a medical chart

By listing these wishes on a document, you ensure that your wishes are followed even if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Once you have created this document, inform the person who will be responsible for making these decisions or inform them where they can find such information. If creating your own, get it reviewed by an attorney.

Helpful Tips


There are several medical procedures and options to be evaluated by a person creating a living will.

If you have specific wishes regarding any of them, those concerns should be spelled out clearly in your living will.

They include whether or not you:

  • Want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops beating
  • Want to receive tube feeding and if so, for how long
  • Want to receive dialysis treatments
  • Want to use antiviral or antibiotic medications
  • Want palliative care (such as being allowed to pass away at home, receive pain medications, or receive invasive tests at end of life.)
  • Want to donate tissue or organs
  • Want to receive mechanical ventilation (breathing support) and if so, for how long
  • Want to donate your body to science

Personal Considerations


Do you have a living will?


Review this document at least once a year.

If your preferences have changed or if the appointed person is no longer willing or able to serve, work with an estate planning lawyer to update this.


Consider creating one with the help of an estate planning lawyer.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information, see the "Create an estate plan and will" section of the Guide.


If you have a living will:

Review this document at least once a year.

If your preferences have changed or if the appointed person is no longer willing or able to serve, work with an estate planning lawyer to update this.

If you do not have a living wil:

Consider creating one with the help of an estate planning lawyer.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information, see the "Create an estate plan and will" section of the Guide.

Providers to Contact


Estate Attorneys Near You

Estate planning attorneys can help you plan for your incapacity or death. They can also help you create a living will or advance directive that complies with your state’s laws.

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Plan for the Future