Everything You Need To Know About Advance Directive Laws by State

Advance Health Care Directive Everything You Need To Know About Advance Directive Laws by State

A Quick Guide to Advance Directive Laws by State

Anyone at any age can lose the ability to make their own health care decisions due to a serious injury or illness. In such situations, a health care directive can instruct your loved ones and physicians on which medical interventions they should approve for you.

The laws that govern the creation of these documents vary by state. This guide will unravel the advance directive laws by state and teach you how to create advance directives that comply with them using DoNotPay.

What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to plan for your future health care if you become incapacitated or terminally ill by:

  • Listing your medical care wishes
  • Appointing someone to make health care decisions in your stead

Two types of advance directives are commonly used in most states:

  1. Medical power of attorney
  2. Living will

The table below contains essential details regarding these documents:

Advance DirectiveExplanationAlternative Names
Medical power of attorney (POA)It allows you to choose someone (typically called a health care agent or representative) who will:

  • Communicate your medical care wishes to health care providers
  • Make health care-related choices on your behalf

An agent assumes their responsibility once it is confirmed you’re no longer capable of deciding for yourself

Depending on your state, the document can be referred to as a:

  • Health care proxy
  • Durable power of attorney for health care
  • Designation of a health care surrogate
  • Health care power of attorney
Living willThis type of advance directive is used to spell out the medical interventions you wish or don’t wish to receive if you become incapacitated or terminally illThe document can also be called an instructional directive

An Overview of Advance Directive Laws by State

Every state has its own statutes that govern drafting and the use of advance directives—meaning the requirements for this document vary. The general points of health care proxy and living will laws by state are outlined in the table below:

State Law Requirements RegardingDetails
Signing of the documentsHere is the summary of signing requirements for all U.S. states:

  • Two witnesses when signing both a living will and medical POA
  • One witness—for example, in Arizona
  • Notary public and witnesses—for instance, in West Virginia
  • One document to be signed by witnesses—for example, a health care POA in Alaska must be signed in the presence of two witnesses
  • No witnesses—for instance, in New Mexico
Choice of an agent and witnessesState laws impose restrictions on the choice of witnesses for an advance directive. In most states, your witness cannot be:

  • Your attending physician or their employee
  • Worker of a health care facility you are in (unless they are related to you)
  • Insurance provider
  • Estate beneficiary
  • Individual responsible for your medical bills
The concept of the documentSome states statutes govern the creation of:

  • Both living will and medical POA
  • One advance directive—for instance, Massachusetts and Michigan allow you to create both documents but don’t govern the creation of a living will, so there are no formal requirements
  • A single document that combines a living will and health care proxy

Create a Legally Valid Advance Directive With DoNotPay

DoNotPay is the best method of creating an advance directive. Our AI-powered app generates your document from scratch and ensures that it:

  • Complies with the laws in your state of residence
  • Is ready in a matter of minutes
  • Accommodates your wishes

The process of creating a living will or health care proxy with our app is straightforward:

  1. Sign up for DoNotPay
  2. Select the Advance Health Care Directive tool
  3. Name your agent and witnesses
  4. Answer a few questions about your medical care preferences

We can also match you with an online notary if you want to get the document notarized.

You can turn to our knowledge base for more helpful guides to advance directives—such as how to compare a health care proxy to a power of attorney, estimate the cost of creating a living will, and many more!

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