In most cases, you don’t need a specific form to give instructions about your future health care. To create useful documents that will be recognized, you need to make sure that:
- Your documents comply with your state’s rules
- Your documents cover all of the issues that are important to you
Make sure that you discuss the contents of the documents with your health care agent, loved ones, and doctors. Then give them copies. Bring copies of your living will and health care proxy documents whenever you’re newly admitted to the hospital or when you see a new doctor. If you are going to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, take these documents with you if you can.
Below are some suggestions for where you can go to get documents that work in your state:
- State Office of the Attorney General and departments of health. Many state health departments or agencies post state-specific advance directive forms on their web sites. If no form is posted, you can call and ask where to get one.
- You can get state-specific forms from The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). This nonprofit focused on end-of-life issues offers state-specific advance directive forms. It includes state-specific forms for all 50 states and Washington D.C.
- The American Bar Association Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly recommends that you compare the generally accepted form from your state plus at least one or two additional forms from other sources. You may find that one form provides instructions for a particular medical circumstance that another does not. If you find a form that works well for you, use it. If not you can combine the critical information from several forms into one document.
- State bar associations. Many state bar associations also post state-specific advance directives forms on their web sites. If a form is not posted, you can ask where to get one.
- Your local hospital. You can call your local hospital and ask where you can find your state’s forms.