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There are two key advance care planning forms (healthcare documents) that assist in advance care planning a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney form.

A Living Will is an advance care planning form used to specify your future medical treatments in case of incapacity, usually at the end of life, or if you become permanently unconscious, in a persistent vegetative state, or beyond reasonable hope of recovery.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is an advance care planning form used to appoint a healthcare agent to make future medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated. This agent will speak on your behalf based on your stated wishes and/or assessment of your best interests.

Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will

  • Legal document/legal advance care planning form
  • No cost to create, unless attorney or notary charges for services
  • Every state has unique documents, but are generally accepted in other states
  • Person needs capacity to originally execute the document, but only goes into effect when the person loses capacity or ability to communicate
  • Notary, witnesses, and signature of person to make legal (does not require attorney)
  • Photocopies may be honored
  • Does not expire


The MOST form is a doctors order that helps express your healthcare preferences at end of life. It includes several decisions including resuscitation status (similar to a DNR), as well as wishes about intubation, antibiotic use and feeding tubes. You should have legal advance care planning forms, such as a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney form, that identify and inform others to make healthcare choices on your behalf when you are unable to communicate for yourself. However, as a medical order primarily for people with serious illness, the MOST document directs your care. The MOST form can provide critical direction that the Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney cannot because they are not medical orders.

Advance care planning forms can be a MOST, POST, POLST or MOLST form.

  • Medical document
  • Signed by healthcare provider and you or your representative
  • Does not require notarization or witnesses
  • Addresses CPR status and be used in traumatic situations
  • Document can be voided at any time if you change your mind about your healthcare preferences

Other documents

There are other healthcare-related documents that can be a part of the conversation, including (but not limited to):

  • Organ, eye, and tissue donation registration
  • Donation of remains for research arrangements
  • HIPAA release form
  • Healthcare-related insurance coverages
  • Funeral, memorial service, burial/cremation planning

For more end-of-life planning documents and resources, please visit the Resources page.

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