In most cases, you do not need a specific form to create an advance directive or living will, or to make someone your health care proxy or grant them power of attorney. However, your documents should:
- Comply with any rules in your state
- Cover all the issues that are important to you
Make sure to discuss the contents of any future care documents with family members, health care providers, and anyone else you feel should know. You should give your providers a copy and may want to provide copies to others. You should also bring a copy to the hospital each time you are admitted, if possible.
For help creating these documents or information on how to comply with your state’s rules, you can contact:
- Your state’s attorney general office or department of health: Many state agencies post state-specific advance directive forms on their websites. If no form is posted, call and ask where to get one.
- The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO): This nonprofit focuses on end-of-life issues and provides state-specific advance directive forms for all 50 states and Washington, DC.
- The American Bar Association Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly
- Your state bar association
- Your local hospital
Note: Some organizations suggest that you compare the generally accepted advance directive form from your state against at least one or two forms from other sources. This is because you may find that one form provides instructions for a particular medical circumstance that another does not. Generally, though, if you find a form that works well for you, use it. You may also decide to combine information from several forms into one document.
You do not need a lawyer to create an advance directive, living will, or health care proxy. However, you may want legal assistance if you have unusual wishes or there are disagreements among family members. You should consult a lawyer to obtain a power of attorney document that appoints a trusted individual to make decisions about your finances.