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Quickly create your Iowa health care directive

You can complete FindLaw’s attorney-created health care directive forms in less than an hour at home. Our guided process takes you through a few easy steps and includes a free HIPAA release form. You’ll be able to download, print and sign your documents in no time.

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Iowa health care directive options to suit your needs

Health Care Directive

For One Person

A do-it-yourself health care directive that’s easy to personalize.

What’s included:
What’s included
Step-by-step guided process
A health care directive tailored to your needs
Attorney-approved document compliant with your state’s laws
Free HIPAA release form
Free changes and revisions to your document for up to a full year after purchase


Estate Planning Package

For One person

All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan

What’s included:
What’s included
Last will and testament
Health care directive
Power of attorney
Free HIPAA release form
A comprehensive plan — for less
Free changes and revisions for up to one year after purchase

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Reliable Iowa health care directives created from home

If you are ever hospitalized with a debilitating illness or injury, your loved ones may struggle with deciding which treatments to administer or withhold on your behalf. With a health care directive, you can provide instructions about whether you would prefer certain life-prolonging treatments to be administered or withdrawn. This can spare your loved ones from disagreements and helps to assure that you are treated according to your wishes.


Written by:

Kimberly Lekman, Esq.

Contributing Author

Reviewed by:

John Devendorf, Esq.

Contributing Author

How it works

Create your health care directive in under an hour

Create an account

Create a secure account which is accessible through an easy dashboard you can access any time

Gather information

Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy, which treatments you would request or refuse and release your records

Complete your document

Answer all questions, then we’ll generate your digital documents for downloading, printing, and signing

Make it legal

Print and sign your document according to instructions. Give copies to your doctors and agent/proxy

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Plan for your future with confidence

This free guide will help you:

  • Learn the most common estate planning terms

  • Understand the essential estate planning tools

  • Gather critical information with an estate planning checklist

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What’s next to make my Iowa health care directive valid?

Follow these steps:

Make decisions on your treatment options

A health care directive is a type of advance health care directive, sometimes known as an “advanced directive.” It allows you to make decisions about your health care in advance. Through a health care directive, you can choose whether you would prefer the administration or withholding of certain life support procedures if you are in a terminal condition. Life-sustaining procedures include treatments such as:

  • Artificial hydration and nutrition
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Ventilators
  • Other procedures which only prolong the natural dying process

Deciding whether you would want to receive or withhold these treatments is a difficult and personal choice. It may help to talk to your family doctor or close loved ones before you decide.

Sign your document

To validate your health care directive, you need to sign and date it or direct someone to do so on your behalf. According to Iowa statutes (the “Life-Sustaining Procedures Act”), two adult witnesses should be present to observe your signature. The witnesses should also sign. At least one of your witnesses should be somebody who is not related to you. There are also a few other restrictions on who can act as a witness.

The following people do not qualify as health care directive witnesses in Iowa:

  • A medical care provider who is involved in your treatment at the time of signing
  • The employee of a medical care provider where you are receiving treatment at the time you sign your document
  • Anyone who is under the age of 18

If you have trouble gathering the appropriate witnesses, you can validate your health care directive by signing it in front of a notary public instead.

Distribute your health care directive

After you have signed your document, you should be sure to distribute it to the right people. If you name someone as an attorney-in-fact, you should provide them with a copy. You should provide any additional close loved ones with a copy too. If you are hospitalized or preparing for a procedure, you should let your health care providers know that you have a health care directive. That way, they can enter it into your medical record just in case.

Update your health care directive

You should update your estate plan, including your health care directive, every few years, as a general rule. You may need to do so more often if you go through major life changes. Circumstances like divorce, a new diagnosis, or an out-of-state move could cause you to rethink your choices. Rest assured that if you create your health care directive through FindLaw, you can make unlimited changes for a year after purchase.

You may want to speak with a lawyer if:

  • Your family disagrees with your medical choices
  • You don’t know who to appoint as your agent
  • You have questions about life prolonging measures
  • You want legal review of your completed document
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Ready to start your Iowa health care directive?

Create my health care directive

Common questions about Iowa health care directives

Under Iowa law, your health care directive must meet a few basic legal requirements to be valid:

  • You must be a competent adult
  • You must sign and date the document or direct someone to do so for you
  • Two witnesses should be present at the time of your signature. They should also sign.

Note that there are several restrictions on who may act as a witness to your health care directive. You may not choose your health care provider or an employee of your health care provider as a witness unless that person is also a relative. Further, anyone who is under the age of 18 is disqualified from acting as a witness.

As an alternative to gathering witnesses, Iowa’s health care laws provide that you may notarize your health care directive instead.

Yes, an out-of-state health care directive is valid if it was made according to the laws of that state and complies with Iowa law.

However, when you permanently move to a new state, it’s a good time to revise your estate plan. This includes your health care directive. To be certain that your advanced directives are valid in Iowa, you should consider creating a new health care directive that’s tailored to Iowa law.

A health care directive does not become effective just because you are hospitalized or endure a medical emergency. In Iowa, it only goes into effect if you are ever unable to give informed treatment decisions and are either:

  • Permanently unconscious; or
  • In a terminal condition

According to Iowa’s Life Sustaining Procedures Act, the attending physician must make these diagnoses to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. In the case of permanent unconsciousness, they must be reasonably certain that there will be no recovery.

In the case of a terminal condition, the attending physician must determine that there is an irreversible condition that will result in death in a short period of time in the absence of life-sustaining procedures. If the physician makes these determinations, your health care directive becomes operative.

Yes, through a durable power of attorney for health care (a “POA”), you can name someone to make medical decisions for you. They would only do so if you become medically unable to make informed medical decisions for yourself. The person you choose for this role is legally known as your attorney-in-fact. An attorney-in-fact (sometimes referred to as a “health care agent” or “health care representative”) does not need to be an attorney.

Your attorney-in-fact has a broad decision-making capability for your medical care. So, they should understand your health care preferences and beliefs before taking on this role. Their legal duty is to make medical decisions according to your wishes. So, be sure to talk to them to make sure that they would be willing to take on this important responsibility, if necessary. Don’t forget to provide them with a copy of your health care directive so they are familiar with your end-of-life treatment wishes.

When choosing an attorney-in-fact, you may not choose your health care provider or an employee of your health care provider for this role. The only exception to this would be if this person is a close relative of yours. It may also be best to choose someone who lives nearby and will be available in the event of a medical emergency.

According to chapter 144B of the Iowa statutes, your attorney-in-fact will be responsible for carrying out your medical wishes if you are ever medically unable to make treatment decisions for yourself. This is in contrast to a health care directive, which only goes into effect in the event of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness.

In other words, your attorney-in-fact can make decisions for you during medical situations which would not be serious enough to make your health care directive operative. For this reason, it can be a good idea to create both a POA and an advance directive as part of your estate plan.

Chapter 144A of the Iowa statutes provides that you may revoke your health care directive in any manner and at any time that you are able to do so. Your mental or physical condition has no effect on your ability to revoke.

If it is your wish to revoke your health care directive, you should make sure that your attending physician is aware of the revocation. If possible, you should inform them of the revocation directly. At that point, it is their duty to enter this change into your medical record.

An effective way of performing a revocation is to create a new health care directive. This is because the new document will revoke all prior documents.

Whenever you create a new health care directive, you should inform the important people in your life of the change. Make sure to distribute copies to your loved ones, any important health care providers, and your attorney-in-fact (if you have one).

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