Law for Older Americans

Health Care Advance Directives

Are there any formalities of signing an advance directive?

All states require some. Most require two witnesses to your signature. A few require notarization, or offer it as an alternative to witnessing.

Find out whether there are any witness restrictions in your state and strictly follow them. You will comply with the witnessing requirements in most states if you avoid using witnesses who are:

  • related to you by blood or marriage
  • heirs or potential claimants to your estate
  • your physician or other medical provider
  • employed by a health care facility that is treating you
  • responsible for your health care costs

For individuals in nursing homes, some states also require a state nursing home ombudsman or a patient advocate or other designated individual to witness the signing.

>>What is a health care advance directive?
>>How do you plan a health care advance directive?
>>Is a health care advance directive the same as a living will?
>>Why can't I just tell my doctor what I want?
>>Will doctors and hospitals recognize my advance directive?
>>What is the Patient Self-Determination Act?
>>How do you write an advance directive?
>>What kinds of decisions does a health-care agent make?
>>How do you select a health-care agent?
>>Are there any formalities of signing an advance directive?
>>Can you change or terminate your advance directive?
>>Where should you keep the directive?
>>When should you review your advance directive?
>>Is an advance directive still good when you cross state lines?


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