Advance Directives

Advance directives guide choices you make now for doctors and caregivers to follow if you are unable to do so in the future.

Advance DirectiveAdvance directives are not just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations or medical crisis can happen at any age. Advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers. Even if you are not sick now, planning for health care in the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want.

An advance directive is a general term used to describe your verbal and/ or written wishes regarding your medical care in the future. You might think of it as a living document—one that you can adjust as your situation changes because of new information or a change in your health.


This is a legal document that names a specific person who will make medical decisions for you at times when you are unable. This person should be familiar with your values and wishes. The person you name may be a spouse, other family member, friend, or member of a faith community. You may also choose one or more alternates in case the person you chose is unable to fulfill the role.

Visit Iowa Bar Association: Medical Power of Attorney 


This is a written document that helps you tell your doctors what treatment you would like to receive if you are unable to make decisions yourself. This legal document spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.

Visit Iowa Bar Association: Living Wills 


Advance directives need to be in writing. Keep the originals in a safe but easily accessible place. Give a copy to your doctor as well as your appointed medical power of attorney (health care agent). Talk to family members and other important people in your life about your advance directives and your health care wishes.

Remember, you can review and change your directives at any time. If you wish to make changes you must create a new form and distribute new copies.

Below you will find copies of fillable, standard documents for your planning use. 

Additional Resources