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Q&A: "How do I Fill Out an Advance Directive?"

Estate Matters

Question: 

How do I fill out an Advance Directive? For example, is there a template out there I should use? Is this something I should carry around in my wallet, and does it need to notarized and/or signed by my lawyer?

Answer: 

I commend you for taking action in this important part of your financial life. Too many people never deal with this and it can result in tough decisions and heartache for family members.

An Advance Directive can be drafted by your lawyer, but there are also templates available. For example, Caring Connections has a page where you can download forms for an Advance Directive (with instructions) for the state where you reside. 

Usually, an Advance Directive does not need to be notarized if your signature has been properly witnessed. But check any specific requirements in your state.

Once completed, you'll want to make several copies. If you've appointed a Healthcare Representative (Healthcare Power of Attorney), make sure they have a copy. Ideally, you should also give a copy to your doctor for your medical records. And it may be appropriate for other family members to have a copy as well. Accessibility of the document is key, so don't put your only copy in the safe deposit box. 

Hope that helps. All the best!