Plan Early: How to Complete Your Advance Directive


We plan for the birth of a child, weddings and retirement, but rarely do we discuss how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives. Getting through a challenging conversation and completing an Advance Directive can give you peace of mind that your loved ones will not have to make difficult choices on your behalf.

Experts agree that the best time to discuss your views about end of life care and to learn what choices are available is before a life-limiting illness or crisis occurs. By preparing in advance, you can help reduce the doubt and anxiety related to decision making for your family if you cannot speak for yourself.

What Are Advanced Directives?

An Advance Directive is a document that states your choices about medical treatment and names another person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. This document allows you to make legally valid decisions about future medical care.

Find more information about Advance Directives and the form online.

“Completing your Advance Directive is a gift you give your family,” says Mary-Ann Brown RN, MSN, director of Palliative Care. “The stress associated with these difficult decisions is decreased if everyone knows what is important to you and what you want the end of life.”

The Conversation

The first step in completing an Advance Directive is to think about what’s important to you and talk to your loved ones. The Conversation Project provides helpful tools to guide you and your family through this challenging topic. Getting this information together will help you fill out and complete your Advance Directive.

Some things to consider and discuss with your family include:

  • When you think about the last phase of your life, what’s most important to you?
  • Who do you want involved in your care?
  • Who should make decisions on your behalf if you’re not able to?
  • Where do you want or not want to receive care?
  • Are there specific treatments you would or would not want?

Complete Your Planning

In order to complete and Advance Directive, you will need either two witnesses or a notary to sign the form. Be sure to note restrictions on the witness process. When an Advance Directive is complete, you should keep the original. Copies should be given to your agent named in the form, your family, your doctor(s) and the location that you receive care.

Renown Health offers four Advance Directive Workshops every month to cover the details of filling out this document. A healthcare team is available to answer questions and work through the process with you. A notary is also present to finalize the process, which means you can complete your Advanced Directive during this workshop. Find the workshop online or call 775-982-RSVP for more information.