How to: Advance healthcare directive

May 19, 2020

There are times when your life can change unexpectedly, like a car crash or sudden illness. That’s why it’s important to put your wishes in writing for your future healthcare decisions.

An advance directive is a written document that makes your goals, values, and healthcare preferences clear. If you’re 18 or older, you should have an advance directive that explains the type of health care you do or do not want in the event you can’t make your own decisions.

Use the following steps to make your wishes clear:

1. Talk about your wishes. Start a conversation with your loved ones and health care provider.

  • If you’re not sure how to start, The Conversation Project has a free Conversation Starter Kit to help you get ready to talk about your wishes and complete your advance directive documents:

2. After you have talked about your wishes, write them down in a legal document. A legal document for honoring your healthcare wishes includes:

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: A legal document where you choose a person (health care agent) to make health care decisions for you if you cannot.
  • Health Care Directive: A legal document that tells your provider and healthcare team what treatments you would or would not want in the event you are permanently unconscious or not expected to recover.

Download and fill out the Advance Directive for Washington State provided by Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest HERE directions for how to complete it and make sure it is legally valid are included. You can read more about how to legally complete your documents at

3. Share your completed documents with your health care agent, loved ones, and medical provider so they have an updated copy.

4. Download a wallet card that you carry with you that notifies health care providers of your wishes in the event you are unable to communicate. Download card >>

Take advantage of the opportunity you have today to make your future health care wishes known. Learn more at