A health care directive (formerly called a living will) gives your family direction on what medical care you want or don't want if you can't communicate. This document gives you the chance to write out your wishes.
It is suggested that all people, even those not currently ill or having surgery, make sure their loved ones are aware of their wishes. A health care directive is a way to do that.
The health care directive goes into effect if you cannot make medical decisions or make your wishes known (such as you cannot communicate or you are mentally unable).
A health care directive allows you to…
Remember: The most important thing about the health care directive is that you, your family and your doctor each understand your wishes.
If you have a completed health care directive, bring a copy of your health care directive to the hospital. It will be part of your medical chart.
If you don't already have a health care directive, talk about your medical care and treatment wishes with your family and health care team before preparing one. These decisions may be difficult. Your health care team will help you understand how these decisions may affect you.
Questions you might start thinking about now include:
Once a health care directive is written, it can be changed or revoked as long as you are able.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Health Care Directives and Minnesota Law, gen-ahc-91676
Health's Patient Education Department experts
Health care directive tutorial
In Case of Emergency (I.C.E.) fact sheet
Fill out your health care directive in your
secure online account.
Detail your wishes or simply name someone to speak on your behalf when you cannot.
If you don't want to fill out your health care directive online, you can also access, print out and fill in the paper form from
advance care planning.