No one—not your doctor, a nursing home, or a hospital—can make you write or share health care instructions, but they must ask if you have them. They cannot deny you care if you don’t have health care instructions.
You don’t need a lawyer help you, but it is a good idea. You will be making difficult decisions. A lawyer can help you make health care instructions that are right for you. You may also want to talk to your doctors, family, and friends.
To make your health care instructions legal, you must
- be at least 18 years old,
- be able to understand the impact of your health care decisions, and
- sign and date your health care instructions in front of two witnesses. Your health care representative cannot be a witness.
Give copies of your signed health care instructions to your
- family and health care representative, and
- doctors and others who might be taking care of you if you can’t take care of yourself.
Also keep a note in your wallet that says where to find your health care instructions.