Advance Care Planning and Healthcare Directives: Overview


Start the advance care planning process and create a healthcare directive

Advance care planning is the process of coming to understand, discuss and plan for a time when you may not be able to make your own medical decisions. Advance care planning for future healthcare choices is important to do while you are healthy and able to make your own decisions.

Minnesota law allows you to inform others about the medical treatment you want to receive. A healthcare directive is a written document that allows you share your wishes and values and name an agent to make decisions on your behalf. To create a directive, select from these translations:

No matter your age or health, writing your wishes in a Healthcare Directive and choosing a healthcare agent are key to preparing for an unpredictable future. A Healthcare Directive is your written plan for future medical treatments. A Healthcare Directive also is the document in which you can identify someone to communicate your wishes if you are unable to do so—This person is your healthcare agent.

By writing a Healthcare Directive, you can: 
  • Make your voice heard so your wishes are followed
  • Prevent confusion and disagreement among family members and your doctor and healthcare team who want to follow your wishes

You may specify if, how and when you would want to:
  • Continue treatment to try to stay alive
  • Stop or withhold certain treatment to die naturally
  • Receive comfort care (medical or spiritual care) to experience a certain quality of life

You do not need a lawyer to complete a Healthcare Directive or have to use a specific form. However, to be legal, the document you create must: 
  • State your name and be in writing and dated
  • Be signed by you or someone you authorize to sign for you—You must do this at a time when you can understand and communicate your wishes.
  • Have 2 witnesses or a notary public verify your signature

If you wish to only appoint a healthcare agent without completing a Healthcare Directive, you may use the Appointment of My Healthcare Agent form