A health care directive is a written document that specifies what type of medical care you want in future, or who you want to make decisions for you, should you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. Generally, a person must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind to make a health care directive. The document must be signed and notarized according to the laws of the particular state. Laws governing directives vary by state, so local laws should be consulted for specific requirements. Healthcare directives are the best possible way to assure that decisions regarding a person’s future medical care will reflect his/her own wishes, in the event that they are unable to voice those wishes. A healthcare directive is also known as advance directive.
The types of health care directives vary based on state law and individual preferences within the states' legal requirements. The three most common types of healthcare directives are the durable power of attorney for health care, living will and do-not-resuscitate order/ declaration.