Advance Care Planning and Health Care Directives: Create a Directive

 
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Advance care planning for future health care choices is important to do while you are healthy and able to make your own decisions. We recommend adults 18 years and older start the advance care planning process. Review and update your Health Care Directive whenever you have a significant change in health status or life circumstances.

Before creating a Health Care Directive, think about what matters most to you. There are no right or wrong answers. Begin by asking:

  • Whom do I trust to make decisions for me if I can no longer make my own health care decisions?
  • What are my values and beliefs about life and death, and the quality of life?
  • What do I need my doctor to know about me?

The Honoring Choices MN Health Care Directive is available in a short or long form.

 Short Form
Suitable for a young, healthy population, those with language barriers, individuals who only wish to appoint a health care agent and/or simply prefer a short version.

Long Form
Suitable for all ages, particularly recommended for those over age 50 or individuals with a chronic, progressive disease.


No matter your age or health, writing your wishes in a Health Care Directive and choosing a health care agent are key to preparing for an unpredictable future. A Health Care Directive is your written plan for future medical treatments. A Health Care 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 health care agent.

By writing a Health Care Directive, you can:

  • Make your voice heard so your wishes are followed
  • Prevent confusion and disagreement among family members and your doctor and health care 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 Health Care 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 two witnesses or a notary public verify your signature

For additional information, see Writing an Advance Directive.