An advance directive is a legally binding document that gives instructions for your healthcare in the event that you are no longer able to make or communicate those decisions yourself. Laws and instructions differ by state. Learn more about the basics of advance directives and advance care planning.
Below you will find the advance directive template for the District of Columbia (Washington, DC.)
Instructions for Downloading the Advance Directive Template
- Opening a PDF requires a file viewer such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or MacOS Preview.
- If you already have this software installed on your computer, click on your state to proceed.
- Due to formatting and printing requirements, for some states a blank page will appear in the Acrobat Reader as the first page. This does not mean the document has not loaded correctly.
- Use the reader’s navigational toolbar to go to the next page.
- Once completed, save and print the form, or store it digitally. If using paper, you should scan the form and save it everywhere you can – including your phone – and distribute them to your inner circle, your physician, and anyone else you think should have it.
What happens if you do not have an Advance Directive in the District of Columbia and are unable to speak for yourself
The decision maker is decided by order of priority:
- A spouse or domestic partner
- An adult child
- A parent
- An adult sibling
- A religious superior, if the patient is a member of a relating order or a diocesan priest
- A close friend, or
- The nearest living relative
The order of priority is a presumption that may be rebutted if someone of a lower priority if found to have better knowledge of the wishes of the patient, or if unknown, is better able to demonstrate a good faith belief as to the patient’s best interests.
Category 5B, close friend, cannot be the treating healthcare provider or owner, operator or employee of the health-care provider or treating facility.
DC Code §21-2210
Note that in many states, there are separate requirements related to minors, specific types of treatment (such as mental healthcare or medical research), or for pregnant women. These more specific provisions are beyond the scope of this information. Some states will also allow for an oral designation of an agent. The purpose of this information is to help you plan ahead for when you may not be able to make a decision for yourself, so it does not address oral designations.
Template to Appoint a Health Care Power of Attorney
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging has created a booklet and simple form that can help you appoint a healthcare power of attorney. It works in all but the following states: Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Texas, or Wisconsin. Download it at americanbar.org.