ContractsCounsel Logo
Home Blog Health Care Directive

Health Care Directive

Jump to Section

A health care directive is a legal document that details one's treatment preferences for medical personnel to follow in case of incapacity or any other reason. Planning for end-of-life care becomes even more crucial as we age or experience serious illnesses.

Health care directives are legal papers that let you tell others about your medical treatment choices when you cannot communicate. Here, we will examine the importance of healthcare directives in end-of-life care planning, the different types of healthcare directives, how they are made, and tips on how to ensure that your medical treatment preferences are respected.

How to Create a Health Care Directive

Creating a health care directive involves several important steps to ensure that it is legally valid and accurately reflects an individual's medical treatment preferences. The following are the steps:

  1. Educate Yourself. Learn about health care directives, including their varieties and legal requirements. Understand what statutory schemes and rules in your jurisdiction apply to living wills.
  2. Consider Your Medical Treatment Preferences. Think over your philosophy, faith, and wellness options. Consider how you would want different types of medical care as you approach the end of your life: life support measures, pain management, etc., as well as personal beliefs, religion or culture practices, and quality of life concerns, should be taken into consideration when making choices concerning therapy.
  3. Choose the Best Form of Health Care Directive. Select the appropriate health care directive that best matches your medical treatment preferences given your wishes and legal requirements in your country or state; this may be a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, DNR orders, POLST, or even a combination of all these documents.
  4. Speak to a Lawyer or Health Care Professional. You should seek advice from an experienced lawyer or healthcare professional to ensure that your healthcare directive is legally binding and accurately addresses your medical treatment wishes. To help you understand what you should do, they would enlighten you on legal prerequisites and implications of decisions taken, as well as get it done properly and signed off.
  5. Communicate Your Directions on Health Care Services. After creating a health care directive document, you must communicate with close family members, designated surrogate decision maker(s), agents/attorneys-in-fact, and any healthcare providers who might be involved in providing you with care while at home or a facility such as a hospital. Provide them with copies of the said document and explain what type of medical treatments are acceptable to you. Ensure easy access.

Importance of Health Care Directives

The importance of health care directives in end-of-life care planning cannot be overemphasized. They give people control over their decisions on medical treatment and allow them to have their way when they can’t talk.

Health care directives give peace of mind to both individuals and their families, knowing that their wishes regarding their medical treatment will be followed and not ignored. They also help ease the burden on family members who may be forced to make difficult medical decisions on behalf of a loved one.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Ryenne S.

670 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Steven S.

21 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Umar F.

3 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Sarah S.

35 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Types of Health Care Directives

There are several types of healthcare documents through which individuals can express themselves about healthcare preferences. The most common ones include:

  • Living Will: A living will is a written record stating an individual’s wants for a future life, including some treatments they would like to get at the end stage, such as life-supporting measures.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: A durable power of attorney for health care designates a person who makes decisions about someone’s body while they become unfit for this work. Such personal representatives, known as “health proxies” or “agents,” make choices regarding therapy based on the patient’s desires and values.
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order: A DNR order shows that one doesn’t wish to receive CPR in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest.
  • POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment): This medical order represents an individual’s choice regarding life-sustaining measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), intubation, and other interventions applicable mainly among people with severe health conditions or those suffering from terminal diseases.

Considerations When Preparing Your Health Care Directive

A health care directive protects how one’s medical choices should be followed up. Nevertheless, other considerations must be addressed so as not to hinder its implementation:

  • Review and Update Your Health Care Directive. Make sure that you review your document periodically and revise it whenever necessary, especially if there are changes in your personal beliefs about life-sustaining therapies, alternate therapy options for terminal illnesses, and other medications used for managing chronic diseases among others since these factors can also influence how someone wants their end-of-life managed once they become incompetent due to medication reactions.
  • Distribute Copies to Relevant People. Family members need a copy, while others include designated surrogate decision maker(s), agents/attorneys-in-fact whether they have been appointed under the Medical Treatment Act (2003) or Health Care Consent Act (1996), and health care providers. Be sure to keep copies of your healthcare directive, including folder files, on your computer; remember that you should also give a copy to the individual who is looking after your interests in a medical emergency.
  • Communicate Your Preferences. When talking about your advance medical directive with family members, agents/attorneys-in-fact, and any other involved medical personnel in hospitals or homes, be as clear as possible so that they will understand what treatments are off-limits for you. Ensure that these people comprehend what you want and any concerns they have are addressed. This way, such wishes could be followed when necessary.
  • Talk to Your Health Care Providers about Your Medical Treatment Preferences. You need to have an open conversation with your healthcare provider about how you would like to be treated in case of terminal illness. Share this document with them so that they understand it well enough and agree to act according to its specifications. This may include end-of-life care decisions, pain management options, and palliative therapies, among others which must be explained further if need be.
  • Educate Your Loved Ones and Health Care Proxy. Instruct and inform close family members about the provisions contained in your written expression of choices on healthcare services considering their own possibilities therein. Have copies shared among those nearest to you and get them enlightened by answering their queries or providing requisite information needed from time to time on this subject matter.

Key Terms for Health Care Directives

  • Health Care Directive: A legal paper that describes what kind of treatments someone wants if they cannot communicate about it themselves.
  • Living Will: A type of health care directive that specifies the type of medical care an individual would like to receive or not receive in different end-of-life situations.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: This is a legally binding agreement that allows another person to make decisions relating to healthcare on behalf and in the best interests of the patient who made their wishes known when they were able to do so but have since lost capacity through mental illness, accident or injury.
  • DNR Order: Also known as the “Do Not Resuscitate” order, this directive indicates a preference against receiving CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) or any other form of life-saving measure should the heart stop beating.
  • POLST: An acronym for "Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment," a medical document that translates an individual's medical treatment preferences into actionable orders for health care providers in case of a medical emergency.

Final Thoughts on Health Care Directives

End-of-life care planning includes health care directives that help individuals communicate how they want their medical treatment and ensure their wishes are honored. Thus, knowing about health care directives’ importance, selecting a suitable one, crafting it accurately and unambiguously as well as communicating your preference will enable you to take proactive steps towards ensuring your EOLP.

If you want free pricing proposals from vetted lawyers that are 60% less than typical law firms, Click here to get started. By comparing multiple proposals for free, you can save the time and stress of finding a quality lawyer for your business needs.

ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Lawyers

Jeremiah C. on ContractsCounsel
View Jeremiah
5.0 (49)
Member Since:
March 5, 2021

Jeremiah C.

Partner/Attorney at Law
Free Consultation
16 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NV, TX
Thomas Jefferson

Creative, results driven business & technology executive with 24 years of experience (15+ as a business/corporate lawyer). A problem solver with a passion for business, technology, and law. I bring a thorough understanding of the intersection of the law and business needs to any endeavor, having founded multiple startups myself with successful exits. I provide professional business and legal consulting. Throughout my career I've represented a number large corporations (including some of the top Fortune 500 companies) but the vast majority of my clients these days are startups and small businesses. Having represented hundreds of successful crowdfunded startups, I'm one of the most well known attorneys for startups seeking CF funds. I hold a Juris Doctor degree with a focus on Business/Corporate Law, a Master of Business Administration degree in Entrepreneurship, A Master of Education degree and dual Bachelor of Science degrees. I look forward to working with any parties that have a need for my skill sets.

Samuel R. on ContractsCounsel
View Samuel
5.0 (45)
Member Since:
October 2, 2021

Samuel R.

Free Consultation
Phoenix - Arizona
5 Yrs Experience
Licensed in AZ, PA, UT
Widener University Delaware Law School

My career interests are to practice Transactional Corporate Law, including Business Start Up, and Mergers and Acquisitions, as well as Real Estate Law, Estate Planning Law, Tax, and Intellectual Property Law. I am currently licensed in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Utah, after having moved to Phoenix from Philadelphia in September 2019. I currently serve as General Counsel for a bioengineering company. I handle everything from their Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Placement Memorandums, and Corporate Structures to Intellectual Property Assignments, to Employment Law and Beach of Contract settlements. Responsibilities include writing and executing agreements, drafting court pleadings, court appearances, mergers and acquisitions, transactional documents, managing expert specialized legal counsel, legal research and anticipating unique legal issues that could impact the Company. Conducted an acquisition of an entire line of intellectual property from a competitor. In regards to other clients, I am primarily focused on transactional law for clients in a variety of industries including, but not limited to, real estate investment, property management, and e-commerce. Work is primarily centered around entity formation and corporate structure, corporate governance agreements, PPMs, opportunity zone tax incentives, and all kinds of business to business agreements. I have also recently gained experience with Estate Planning law, drafting numerous Estate Planning documents for people such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Directives, and Trusts. I was selected to the 2024 Super Lawyers Southwest Rising Stars list. Each year no more than 2.5% of the attorneys in Arizona and New Mexico are selected to the Rising Stars. I am looking to further gain legal experience in these fields of law as well as expand my legal experience assisting business start ups, mergers and acquisitions and also trademark registration and licensing.

Matthew C. on ContractsCounsel
View Matthew
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
March 17, 2024

Matthew C.

Real Estate Attorney
Free Consultation
Delaware, Ohio
20 Yrs Experience
Licensed in OH
Cleveland State University College of Law

Matt Curry is a seasoned attorney specializing in real estate law and contract matters. With a deep understanding of contract law and extensive experience in negotiating and drafting contracts, Matt has earned a reputation for providing exceptional legal counsel to clients. As the founder and principal attorney at MPC LAW, Matt is committed to delivering tailored legal solutions. MPC LAW is renowned for its expertise in real estate transactions, lease agreements, contract negotiations, and dispute resolution. Matt's approach combines legal acumen with a client-centered focus, ensuring that every client receives personalized attention and strategic advice. Whether navigating complex real estate deals or resolving contractual disputes, Matt and his team at MPC LAW consistently achieve favorable outcomes for their clients. With a track record of success and a commitment to excellence, Matt Curry and MPC LAW are trusted partners for individuals and businesses seeking reliable legal counsel in real estate and contract matters.

Arohi K. on ContractsCounsel
View Arohi
Member Since:
March 19, 2024

Arohi K.

Free Consultation
California, Delhi
5 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
University of Berkeley - School of Law

I am a Partner at Kashyap Partners (operating in California, New York and New Jersey), along with it's sister firm in India. I have been working as a technology, transactional and data privacy lawyer for 5 years with a specialisation in start-up law.

Nichole M. on ContractsCounsel
View Nichole
Member Since:
March 19, 2024

Nichole M.

Solo Practitioner
Free Consultation
Midlothian, Texas
1 Yr Experience
Licensed in MN, TX

Ms. Melton-Mitchell is a seasoned executive that has obtained a law degree and is practicing law as a second career. She has spent over 25 years in the health care industry and is well versed in health law, contract law, financial law, trusts and estates, M&A and other types of transactional law. She maintains evening and weekend hours to allow clients flexibility in connecting with her around their schedule.

Robert A. on ContractsCounsel
View Robert
Member Since:
March 20, 2024

Robert A.

Attorney at Law
Free Consultation
12 Yrs Experience
Licensed in WI
Marquette University Law School

Robert McMillan Arthur is a collaborative attorney and mediator practicing across Wisconsin, with offices in the Metro Milwaukee area and Northeastern Wisconsin. He is a general practitioner, concentrating in Small Business Law, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property Law, Nonprofit Law, Divorce and Family Law. Robert’s business law practice focuses on the needs of small, closely-held businesses and startups. As a veteran of a family owned business, Robert applies his extensive experience to advise his clients in a broad spectrum of legal issues, including contracts, licensing, trademark, copyright, employment, and business formation. With multidisciplinary qualifications and experiences, Robert chose his career in law to help people caught up in difficult situations in their personal or professional lives. His core principle of law practice is based on empowering and informing clients, advocating for their interests when appropriate, and guiding them in difficult problem solving.

Charles D. on ContractsCounsel
View Charles
Member Since:
March 29, 2024

Charles D.

Construction/Real Estate Attorney
Free Consultation
Corydon, Indiana
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IN
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

I have practiced civil law for 13 years and have concentrated my practice serving the construction and real estate industries.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.

View Trustpilot Review

Need help with a Healthcare Proxy?

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

See All Family Lawyers
See All Health Care Directive Lawyers

Contracts Counsel was incredibly helpful and easy to use. I submitted a project for a lawyer's help within a day I had received over 6 proposals from qualified lawyers. I submitted a bid that works best for my business and we went forward with the project.

View Trustpilot Review

I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I'll certainly be a repeat customer.

View Trustpilot Review

I got 5 bids within 24h of posting my project. I choose the person who provided the most detailed and relevant intro letter, highlighting their experience relevant to my project. I am very satisfied with the outcome and quality of the two agreements that were produced, they actually far exceed my expectations.

View Trustpilot Review

How It Works

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call

Find lawyers and attorneys by city