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Health care directive


All advance care planning classes are currently on hold due to limited resources. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please use our step-by-step guide to learn how to fill out a health care directive below.

A health care directive is designed to help you communicate your wishes for medical treatment if you are unable to communicate due to illness or injury.

The health care directive goes into effect if you cannot make medical decisions or make your wishes known. It clarifies what your care circle of loved ones, health care agents and health care providers need to know if you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself. 

It is suggested that all adults (18 years or older), even those not currently ill or having surgery, make sure their loved ones, health care agents and health care providers are aware of their wishes.  

Learn more

Health care directive overview

A health care directive allows you to:

  • appoint another person (called an agent) to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself
  • leave written instructions so that others can make decisions based on your wishes and preferences 

Health care directive planning

Health care directive planning is a process to:

  • Understand your health care treatment options
  • Clarify your health care goals
  • Weigh your options about what kind of care and treatment you do want or not want
  • Make decisions about whom to name as a health care agent or complete a health care directive
  • Communicate your wishes and any documents with your care circle and health care provider.

Remember: The most important thing about the health care directive is that you, your loved ones and doctor understand your wishes.

Questions you might start thinking about now include:

  • What if it becomes necessary for me to make other living arrangements?
  • If I become unable to communicate, what do I want my loved ones to know about my health care wishes?
  • Who do I want to have make decisions for me when I can't speak for myself?
  • At what point would I want to say, "Enough is enough. I want to focus on comfort and quality of life?"
  • What is hospice? Would I ever want to be part of a hospice program?
  • Would I agree to an autopsy to help my family understand my cause of death?
  • Do I want to become an organ donor?
  • What are my preferences for funeral arrangements?

If you have a completed health care directive, provide a copy to each agent and your provider. Bring a copy of your directive to the hospital. It will be part of your medical chart.

Once a health care directive is written, it can be changed or revoked as long as you are able.

Options for creating a health care directive

The following are resources to help you in the planning and completion of your health care directive: 

Make Your Choices Known: Your Guide to Completing a Health Care Directive

Health care directive — paper option

Print out and fill in the paper form:

Minnesota residents:

Wisconsin residents:

When you print the PDF, please print it one-sided. This document will be scanned into your electronic health record.

After you print the PDF and fill it out, have it signed by two witnesses (Minnesota or Wisconsin) or have it notarized by a notary public (Minnesota only). Then give copies to your health care provider and health care agent(s).

Health care directive - additional tips and guidelines

  • A member of your health care team (such as a social worker, chaplain, home health or palliative care nurse) can help you prepare a health care directive.
  • You do not need a lawyer to prepare a health care directive.
  • Laws about health care directives (or advance directives) are not the same in all 50 U.S. states. If you spend a lot of time in or move to another state, find out if you need to fill out a new form.

State guidelines

These guides will help you and your loved ones plan for the future.

Related links

Last reviewed: 10/9/2023