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Advance directive

Ensuring your wishes are met

Once you have chosen your healthcare champion and talked with him or her about your treatment preferences, it’s time to put your decisions in writing. Follow the steps below to document your wishes:

For Virginia residents:

Taking the next steps

Once you have completed these documents, there are a few steps to take to be sure your choices are honored by your doctors and loved ones:

  • Download and print out the Next Steps document (PDF) or Spanish version (PDF), for future reference.
  • Give a copy to your doctor. It is very important that your advance directives get loaded to your medical record. If you send your directives by mail, be sure to include a copy of the Medical Record AD Entry form or a cover letter with your address, date of birth and contact information.
  • Discuss your choices with your doctor(s). Tell your doctor what your wishes are. Make sure you are both clear on what you want and that your wishes will be honored.
  • Give a copy of your document(s) to your healthcare agent, if you have one. This is the person you named in your Health Care Power of Attorney.
  • Give copies to your family and loved ones. You might also want to give a copy to your clergy.
  • Keep the original document(s) where they will be safe and easy to obtain. Make an extra copy for yourself, in case you lose your original or it is accidentally destroyed or damaged. Do not put these documents in a safe deposit box.
  • Label one copy "Hospital" and take it with you if you are admitted to a hospital. Tell the hospital staff to make a copy of the document and return your copy to you.
  • Make a list of everyone to whom you gave a copy of your document(s). If you ever change your documents, you will have a list of who needs updated copies.
  • Upload documents on your smartphone. Consider uploading a copy of your advance directives onto your smartphone. The American Bar Association’s “My Health Care Wishes” smartphone app gives you immediate access to your advance directives wherever and whenever you need them.
  • Download and print out the My Champion Wallet Card and carry it with you.