Holding Hands

Advance Directive

Do you have an Advance Directive?

No one wants to think about being involved in a serious accident, having a debilitating illness or, ultimately, dying. But any of these can happen—at any age. While about 70% of Americans say they would prefer to pass away at home, most people die in a hospital or other healthcare facility.* 

An advance directive allows you to write down what you want—and what you don’t want—ahead of time. Should you become unable to communicate or make decisions, your wishes will be honored.

*Final Chapter: Californians’ Attitudes and Experiences with Death and Dying.

Age doesn't matter!

Younger adults have as much reason to complete an advance directive as anyone else. Advances in medical technology could keep you alive—but unconscious—for decades after a serious accident.

It’s just 5 steps:

  • 1. Consider your options.

    •    What matters most to you at the end of life?
    •    What conditions would/wouldn’t be acceptable?
    •    What would you most want end-of-life treatments to achieve?
    •    How important is being able to care for yourself?
    •    Do you have ethical or religious beliefs that could be important?
    •    Which non-medical information do you want your treatment team to know about you?

  • 2. Make it legal. You don’t need a lawyer.

    The only requirement is that it must be signed by you and either (A) two witnesses or (B) notarized. Witnesses cannot be your medical decision maker or your healthcare provider. Only one witness can be a blood relative. Being a medical decision maker is not the same as being a financial decision maker.

  • 3. Share it.

    Talk about it. Share your directive with your loved ones so they know your wishes. This can minimize conflict.

  • 4. Store it.

    Keep your advance directive safe but accessible (so, not in a safe deposit box). Give copies to your loved ones. Ask that a copy be included in your electronic health record. Consider giving copies to your: medical decision maker, doctors, hospital. 

  • 5. Review it.

    Review and update your advance directive at any time—especially yearly and upon life changes (i.e., marriage, divorce, children, decline in health, and advances in medical treatment).

Resources from Your Health Plan: 

Your health plan offers support to help make sure your Advance Directive is part of your medical record. Find out what is available to you.