Advance Directives

Sanford Center for Aging

What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance care planning is a process that involves identifying your values, wishes and choices about your future health care if you are no longer capable of voicing them.

What are Advance Directives?

There are two main sections in advance directives: A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Health Declaration (aka Living Will).

Another document that can supplement your advance directives is the Physician/Provider Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

This allows you to identify a Health Care Agent (HCA). Your HCA is someone you choose to make medical decisions for you based on your wishes if you are unable to do so yourself.

Health Declaration (Living Will)

This tells others how you want to be treated when you develop a terminal condition and cannot make life-sustaining treatment decisions such as resuscitation, breathing machine and tube feeding.

Physician/Provider Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

The POLST identifies your medical choices in the form of provider's orders.

The provider fills out a POLST with you after discussing your wishes with you and your family.

Why are Advance Directives Important?

Advance directives can make a difference. People who document their choices using advance directives are more likely to get the care they prefer at the end of life than people who do not have advance directives.

Getting Started

1. Think about what is important to you and the care that you would want or would not want, if you were not able to make these choices yourself.

2. Choose your Health Care Agent (HCA). This person will make health decisions if you are not able to do so yourself.

3. Talk to your HCA and make them aware of your values and wishes.

4. Complete your Advance Directives.

Once Advance Directive is Completed and Notarized, Follow These Steps

  1. Ask your Primary Care Provider (PCP) to place a copy of your Advance Directive forms into your medical records.
  2. Provide a copy of your Advance Directive forms to your HCA.
  3. Access the "Advance Directive Registration Agreement" form at
  4. Place a copy of your Advance Directive forms in Nevada Lockbox so providers can access your documents.

Further information, questions and notary services: Washoe Legal Services (nonprofit legal aid organization), 299 S. Arlington Ave., Reno, NV 89502, (775) 329-2727

Advance Directive Workshops at Renown Health: Go to and search "Advance Directive." You will find listings for Advance Directive workshops. You can also RSVP to Renown Advance Directive workshops by phone at (775) 982-7787.


Handout Prepared by: Elvina Darmawan, MS; Jesel Garcia, BA; and Sapna Malik, MD, 2019

Updated April 13, 2021