Living Wills and Advance Care Planning

If you are 18 or older, and mentally competent, then you have the right to make decisions about your medical care. Advanced directives are legal forms that help you make decisions about your medical care.

There Are Three Kinds of Advance Directives

  • living will (PDF, 176 KB) lets you state your wishes about medical care, or choose another person(s) to make medical decisions for you if you lose the ability to do so.
  • A health care power of attorney (PDF, 225 KB) lets you name a person to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to decide for yourself.
  • An advance instruction for mental health treatment allows you to give instructions and preferences about mental health treatment. You may select someone to make these decisions for you if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. This document automatically expires in two years.

If you already have an advance directive, we must have a copy in order to follow your wishes. If you cannot give us a copy, then we will be happy to complete another form for you in case one is needed while you are in a Duke Health hospital.

If you want to complete an advance directive or have questions, talk to your nurse, physician, patient and visitor relations representatives, or staff in Pastoral Services. Your nurse can also help you find someone to notarize your form.

For more information about your rights as a patient, see Rights and Responsibilities.

Advance Care Planning

Do your loved ones and healthcare team members know what treatments you'd prefer if you are seriously ill? It's essential that you talk with your family and healthcare professionals about your medical preferences. This is called advance care planning.