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How to Get an Advance Directive

by Viki Kind, End-of-Life Expert
June 11, 2014

Question: How does one get an advance directive and after it is completed, what should people do with it?

Answer: 1. The easiest way to get a free Advance Directive is to go to the front desk of any hospital. Just tell them you need one or more for your family, and they should give the forms to you for free.

2. You can go online to for a free, state specific form. These forms are also available on many other organizations’ websites. Just type in the words “Advance Directive” and the name of the state where you live, and plenty of options should appear.

3. Your doctor’s office should have Advance Directive forms available, but unfortunately, many doctors don’t keep them in their offices.

What to do with it after you complete it:

1.  Give copies to your decision makers, family, doctors and local hospital.

2.  Put it in a large manila envelope labeled “Advance Directive” and tape it to your refrigerator.  Put one in your travel bag, in the glove box of your car and in any other place that would make it easy to find in an emergency.

3.  You can also use a service such as to makes sure your advance directives and emergency information are immediately available 24 hours a day, worldwide by fax or the Internet. You will receive a plastic wallet card, and then your family or hospitals can use that card to obtain your important documents.

4.  And finally, you must talk to your decision maker, alternates, doctors and other family members.  You don’t want them getting the call that they are responsible for your life and death decisions without having talked to you before the emergency.

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Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, professional speaker, and hospice volunteer. Her book, The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices For Those Who Can't,” guides families and professionals through the difficult process of advocating for those who can no longer speak for themselves. She has recently launched a DVD that includes a template to create a quality-of-life statement.

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