State By State Guide to Advance Directives

Advance Directives, aka Advance Healthcare Directives, are documented preferences that allow you to communicate the extent and type of medical treatment you would want if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate for yourself. Forms for this purpose vary by state and may be generalized or quite specific in terms of possible situations and approaches to managing them. The capacity to document instructions allows you to be in control rather than burdening loved ones with decisions that may be stressful for them.

The Advance Directive forms are usually comprised of the following:

1. Healthcare Proxy aka Healthcare Power of Attorney

2. Living Will aka Advance Directive

To learn more about Advance Directives, see What You Need to Know About Advance Directives.

Most states provide you with forms to document your Advance Directives or allow you to use generic forms, like Five Wishes, for documenting your Advance Directives; however 8 states* have state-specific forms that must be used to be legally binding. Click on your state in the map below to access the full suite of information for end-of-life planning and advance directives in your state:


For more information on funeral planning and resources to guide you through planning a funeral, visit the I’m Sorry to Hear article library and Resources to download a Funeral Planning Checklist, review the Casket Guide, find Funeral Planning Tips, and access Funeral Consumer Advocacy links.