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Pennsylvania advance health care directive template

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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Pennsylvania health care directive options for everyone

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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Quick, reliable Pennsylvania health care directives

In the event that you ever suffer from a terminal illness or injury, you may lose the ability to make informed decisions on your medical options. Your doctors may then administer life-prolonging medical procedures you might not have wanted under these circumstances. To avoid this, you can create a health care directive that details your medical wishes. Although this can be unpleasant to consider, it may give you peace of mind knowing that you have made your own choices on these difficult issues. It can also ease the burden on loved ones who will not have to make these difficult decisions on their own.

Download the free Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive Template in PDF on this page. Save and print this sample template with no opt-in or cost.


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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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 Pennsylvania health care directive valid?

Follow these steps:

Make decisions on potential medical issues

A health care directive is a type of advance health care directive (“advance directive“). You can use advance directives to make medical decisions in advance of an incapacitating condition. In your health care directive, you will give instructions to your doctors. You will choose whether you would request or refuse life-sustaining treatment that only prolongs the natural dying process.

You can also specify your preferences for health care treatments like artificial nutrition (tube feeding), cardiopulmonary resuscitation, dialysis, artificial ventilation, pain relief, and more.

It can be tempting to avoid thinking about this possibility. But it’s wise to give health care directions for this scenario just in case. By making your medical wishes clear, you can avoid receiving treatments you do not want. This could even spare your loved ones from agonizing over end-of-life medical choices on your behalf.

Choose your health care agent

In Pennsylvania, you have the option of designating a trusted person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so for yourself. This person is typically called a health care agent, health care proxy, or health care representative. The document you use to name this person is called a health care power of attorney.

You do not have to name a health care agent but you it can be reassuring to know that someone you trust will have authority over your medical options if you become unable to communicate them yourself.

One of your health care agent’s duties is to carry out the terms of your health care directive. For medical issues where you have not provided instructions, they should act in your best interest and with your personal values in mind. So, it will be helpful to select a health care agent who understands and respects your choices. At the very least, this person should not have strong disagreements with your medical preferences.

Many people choose a close loved one such as a spouse, parent, sibling, or adult child, for this role. You may want to name one or two alternate agents too. These alternates will be backup health care agents in case your first choice becomes unable or ineligible to take on this role.

There are a few restrictions under Pennsylvania law on your choice of health care agent. Unless they are related to you, you may not choose the following individuals as your health care agent:

  • Your attending physician
  • Any of your healthcare providers
  • An owner, operator, or employee of a health care provider that treats you

Before committing to a health care agent or alternates, you should discuss this responsibility with them. You will need to make sure that they are willing and able to take on the role.

Sign your health care directive

According to the Pennsylvania Living Will Act, you must sign and date your health care directive. If you are unable to sign the document yourself, you can direct someone to sign it for you. However, your health care provider and their agents cannot sign on your behalf.

There should be two adult witnesses present at the time that you sign your document. Neither of these witnesses can be the person who signed on your behalf. The witnesses must then sign the document.

Distribute your advance directives

After properly signing your advance directives, it’s important that you distribute them to the right people. You should give copies to your health care agent to help them understand your medical care wishes and end-of-life care preferences.

Next, you should provide your advance directives to your healthcare providers so that they can enter them into your medical record.

Finally, you should give your close loved ones copies of your advance directives. This will help them understand your medical preferences in case they ever accompany you during an emergency medical situation.

Update your advance directives

You should review your advance directives at least every few years to make sure they continue to reflect your wishes. As time passes and your life changes, you may need to make some modifications. For instance, if you get married, divorced, or complete a long-distance move, you may want to change your health care agent. In the event that you receive a new diagnosis, you may change your mind about treatment selections in your health care directive.

Regardless of the reason, you have the right to update or change your advance directives at any time. Rest assured that when you create a health care directive with FindLaw, you can make unlimited changes to it at no additional charge for a full 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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Create my health care directive

Commonly asked questions about Pennsylvania health care directives

To create a legally binding health care directive in Pennsylvania, you must fulfill certain basic legal requirements:

  • Mental capacity: You must be of sound mind when you sign your document.
  • Age: You must be either 18 years old or older, a high school graduate, married, or an emancipated minor.
  • Signature: You must sign and date your health care directive or direct someone to do so for you.
  • Witnesses: There must be at least two adult witnesses to your signature. They must then sign your document.

If you need someone to sign your document on your behalf, you cannot choose a person who is your health care provider or their agent. Further, the person who signs your document for you does not qualify as a witness. So, if someone signs on your behalf, you need to gather two additional witnesses.

Yes, an out-of-state health care directive is valid under Pennsylvania law if you executed it in compliance with the laws of that state. However, a health care directive from another state cannot authorize a medical procedure that is unlawful in Pennsylvania.

If you have recently moved to Pennsylvania, it may be a good time to review your estate plan (including your advance directives). When you create a new Pennsylvania health care directive, you can relax knowing that it will not contain provisions that are unlawful in your new state of residence. With FindLaw, you can get an attorney-approved health care directive that’s tailored to Pennsylvania law in less than an hour without having to leave the comfort of home.

The instructions in your health care directive do not go into effect simply because you are hospitalized or severely ill.

A health care directive only becomes operative in Pennsylvania in the event of a serious end-of-life medical condition. Your medical professionals will only act on the instructions in your health care directive if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions and you:

  • Suffer from an end-stage medical condition; or
  • Are permanently unconscious.

Pennsylvania statutes define permanent unconsciousness as a medical condition where there is reasonable medical certainty that the patient will not regain consciousness. This includes irreversible comas or permanent vegetative states.

An end-stage medical condition is one where there is an incurable illness or injury that will cause death even if the patient receives treatment. In other words, this is a terminal condition. The determination of an end-stage condition must be medically certain to a reasonable degree in order to be valid.

Not entirely. A divorce has no effect on the health care instructions in your health care directive. But if you named your former spouse as your health care agent, this designation is revoked by a divorce under Pennsylvania law. The exception to this would be if it was clear in your power of attorney document that you wanted the designation to survive a divorce.

After going through a divorce, it might be a good time to review and update your advance directives. If your former spouse was your health care agent, you would probably like to choose another person to make healthcare decisions for you.

If you change your mind, you have the right to revoke your health care directive at any time. Your mental or physical condition have no impact on your ability to change or cancel your health care choices.

According to Pennsylvania statutes, you can revoke a health care directive in any manner available to you. This might include tearing up, burning, or otherwise physically destroying your documents and all copies. However, a better method is to create a written record of your revocation. This will give your loved ones and medical staff an updated understanding of your medical care wishes.

You can create a written revocation by creating a new health care directive that revokes all prior ones. With FindLaw, you can create a personalized Pennsylvania health care directive that revokes your prior ones. The easy guided process only takes about half an hour.

After revoking advance directives or creating new ones, you need to inform the important people in your life of the changes. You should give copies of your new documents to your health care agent, medical staff, and loved ones.

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