An advance directive is a legal form that helps loved ones and family members honor your wishes about end of life care, if you get so sick or injured you cannot make decisions about your health care on your own.
An advance directive includes:
- The designation of a surrogate decision maker who can articulate and honor your health care wishes if you are unable to do so.
- Information on what matters to you, your values and spirituality, and how you define quality of life and a life worth living. This section also includes information on medical interventions, such as a feeding tube or breathing machine, that you would be willing or unwilling to include in your care under different scenarios. You can leave this section blank or fill it out partially, as fits your needs and concerns.
- You must sign your advance directive in the presence of two witnesses or have it notarized.
Advance Directive Form: Make Your Wishes Known
- Although an advance directive is a legal form, you can prepare your own at no cost. Forms for California advance directives are available in English and Spanish, and seven other languages.
- Once you have an advance directive, copies should be given to your doctor and to your designated health care surrogate, as well as family and close friends. Your advance directive should be included in your medical record, including your electronic health record.
If you have not thought about end of life care and what gives your life meaning, these resources may help:
Prepare for Your Care: Website featuring step-by-step instructions and video stories
Informational Handout: "Make Your Wishes Known"
We encourage people to talk about what gives their life meaning and end of life care wishes with family and loved ones, and their doctors, while they are healthy. These discussions, and an advance directive, will help ensure your wishes are respected, and they will help loved ones honor your choices without doubts or guilt.