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Quickly create your South Dakota 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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South Dakota 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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Get an attorney-approved South Dakota health care directive the easy way

If you don’t have a health care directive and have been rendered permanently unconscious by an illness or injury, the doctors treating you must turn to your loved ones for answers regarding end-of-life medical care. A well-written South Dakota health care directive provides your family and doctors with answers on how to approach your medical treatment so that your choices are respected if you are unable to speak for yourself. It also spares your loved ones from needing to make difficult choices about continuing or withholding treatment when you have no hope of recovery.


Written by:

J.P. Finet, J.D.

Contributing Author


Reviewed by:

Tim Kelly, J.D.

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 are the steps for creating my South Dakota health care directive?

Follow these steps:

Choose when you would like medical treatment to be limited or withdrawn

If you are dying with no hope of recovery and unable to communicate, doctors will turn to a family member for guidance on treatment even if that person does not know what you would have wanted. A health care directive instructs your family or doctor on which types of life-sustaining care you should receive if you are suffering from a terminal illness or injury and can’t make medical decisions for yourself. Other situations where you need others to make decisions on your behalf, such as if you have been temporarily incapacitated following an accident, should be addressed using a power of attorney for health care.

Treatments that are usually addressed in a health care directive include:

  • When cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be administered
  • The use of a respirator if you can’t breathe on your own
  • Taking food or liquids through a feeding tube
  • Surgery or invasive diagnostic tests
  • The treatment of infections with antibiotics or other medication
  • How long you should receive dialysis, if needed
  • Palliative care to make you comfortable in your final days by addressing issues like pain management or whether you want to die at home
  • Whether you would like your organs, tissue, or body to be donated

Decide if you want to give someone health care power of attorney

A durable power of attorney for health care is a legal document through which you appoint a person to serve as your health care agent or “attorney in fact” to make health care decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them yourself. In South Dakota, a grant of durable power of attorney can be drafted so that it is broader in scope than a health care directive. For example, you could simply stipulate that the health care agent is authorized to make all health care decisions on your behalf, including end-of-life care choices. Someone with medical power of attorney can also be authorized to sign paperwork regarding insurance and other health care-related issues.

The types of decisions someone with health care power of attorney can usually take on your behalf include:

  • What type of medical care you should receive and when it should be withdrawn
  • The hospital or other facility where you will be treated
  • The doctors or medical professionals who will provide your treatment
  • Whether you should be moved into a nursing home or other long-term care facility

Write your health care directive

While you can relay your choices for end-of-life medical care to your family orally in South Dakota, putting your health care directive in writing is the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed. Regardless of whether you choose to draft the document yourself, hire an attorney, or use a safe and easy service like FindLaw’s, the language you use in your health care directive is vital to its effectiveness.

The terms of your South Dakota health care directive can be as broad or precise as you would like, so long as your doctors and loved ones easily understand them. For example, your health care directive can simply include a blanket statement saying that you would like all life-sustaining treatment to be withheld once you have become permanently unconscious due to an irreversible condition. Or, in the alternative, you could state that you want any and all measures taken to prolong your life as long as possible.

You also have the option of specifically listing common end-of-life medical treatments and whether you would like them to be undertaken if you are permanently unconscious. For example, you can explain that you would want a feeding tube used while you can still breathe on your own, but do not want a respirator used to help with breathing or CPR to revive you.

Sign your health care directive

Signing your health care directive makes it legally binding. To be legally valid in South Dakota, your health care directive must be signed in front of two witnesses. It does not need to be notarized, but that is usually recommended. You must also be at least 18 years old and legally competent to sign a contract.

Distribute copies of your health care directive

As a general rule, the more people who know about your health care directive, the better. You will want anyone who has a say in your medical care to have a copy so they can refer to it in case of an emergency. This means that you should provide copies to your doctor and any hospitals where you might receive treatment. If you have given someone health care power of attorney, they should receive a copy along with your family members. Finally, you should keep a copy of your health care directive with your other estate planning documents.

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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Frequently asked questions about South Dakota health care directives

A health care directive is a key estate planning document because it advises your loved one on your wishes with respect to end-of-life medical care. Even if you have made it clear to your family that would like to stop medical treatment if you are terminally ill and unresponsive, actually asking that care be withheld can be stressful and upsetting to your loved ones. With a health care directive they can be spared from having to make those difficult decisions on your behalf.

A health care directive can also help avoid disputes between family members over how you would want to be treated if you are terminally ill and unresponsive. These disputes can create rifts and animosity between family members that can sometime end up being decided in court.

A health care directive is a document that specifies the medical treatment you would like to receive should you be terminally ill and unable to communicate. It provides guidance and comfort to your family when they are making end-of-life choices on your behalf.

Health care procedures that are often addressed in health care directives include:

  • CPR
  • Breathing tubes or ventilators
  • Feeding tubes
  • Palliative care that limits treatments to those that will make you comfortable
  • Donating organs, tissue, and your body

A living will serves a different purpose than your last will and testament. Your last will tells your survivors how you would like your property to be distributed after you die and how your loved ones should be cared for. A living will, also known as a health care directive, takes effect while you are still alive and provides your family and doctors with guidance on your medical treatment if you are terminally ill and unable to communicate.

South Dakota state law allows anyone who is over the age of 18 and competent to create a health care directive.

If you are terminally ill and are unable to make health care decisions, then the doctors providing treatment will look to your family members in the following order:

  • Your spouse, unless you are legally separated
  • An adult child
  • A parent
  • An adult sibling
  • A grandparent or adult grandchild
  • An aunt, uncle, adult cousin, adult niece, or an adult nephew
  • A close friend

The person who is making medical decisions on your behalf must follow your wishes, if they are known. If your wishes are not known, they must act in good faith and in your best interests.

In South Dakota, your health care directive only goes into effect when you are terminally ill or permanently unresponsive. If you would like to give someone else the right to dictate your care during times when you are unresponsive, but expected to recover, you should give that person health care power of attorney. For example, if you are unconscious following a car accident, but doctors expect you to pull through, someone with power of attorney could take control of your care. Your health care directive would not come into play in that situation because you are expected to recover and it only addresses end-of-life care.

You can create a health care directive in South Dakota without using an attorney. You can either craft your own document or take advantage of an easy-to-use service like FindLaw’s, which will allow you to create a personalized health care directive in a few minutes.

FindLaw is not a law firm, and the forms are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney. If you are concerned that your and health care directive is going to be challenged by your family or other interested individuals, you may wish to consult with a local attorney to discuss your specific situation.

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