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Quickly create your Washington, D.C. 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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Washington, D.C., 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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A fast, easy way to create a Washington, D.C., health care directive

If you don’t have a health care directive and have been rendered permanently unconscious by an illness or injury, doctors will turn to your available family members to make medical decisions regarding your care. These family members will dictate your end-of-life care, even if they are unaware of your wishes. A health care directive through FindLaw provides your doctors and loved ones with clear answers on how to approach your end-of-life medical treatment so that your choices are respected if you can’t speak for yourself.


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 steps should I take to make my Washington, D.C., health care directive valid?

Choose when you would like medical treatment to be limited or withdrawn

Sometimes referred to as an “advance directive.”, a health care directive instructs your doctor and loved ones on which types of life-sustaining care you should receive if you are suffering from a terminal illness or injury and can’t make your own medical decisions. Other situations where others need to make medical 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 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 through pain management or other measures
  • Whether you would like your organs, tissue, or body to be donated

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

When you give someone power of attorney for health care you are letting them serve as your agent to make health care decisions if you can’t do so yourself. You can also grant someone power of attorney to make medical decisions regarding your care if you are still able to communicate. In Washington, D.C., your agent can’t be the owner, operator, or employee of a long-term residential health care institution where you are receiving care.

While you are free to limit the decisions that someone with health care power of attorney can make on your behalf, an agent can usually make the following decisions on your behalf:

  • The 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 other 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

The language in your Washington, D.C. health care directive is important. Be sure to clearly identify yourself using your full legal name.

The terms of your health care directive may be as narrow or broad as you desire, so long as your doctors and loved ones can easily discern your intentions. For example, you can simply state that you would like to refuse any life-sustaining treatment if you are unable to communicate and doctors have determined that you will not survive. Likewise, you can state that you want doctors to continue with life-prolonging medical treatment, regardless of whether you are expected to survive.

Courts in Washington, D.C., have also upheld health care directives that instruct doctors to withhold or withdraw specific treatments, so long as the document is clear about its intent. For example, you could state that a feeding tube and a ventilator be used for a reasonable period of time and disconnected if your condition does not improve.

Sign your health care directive

Any competent person who is over the age of 18 can sign a health care directive in Washington, D.C. You must sign and date the document in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must meet the following conditions:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Not related to you
  • Not a beneficiary of your estate
  • Not financially responsible for your medical care

There is no requirement that a health care directive be notarized in Washington, D.C., but it is recommended that you have the document notarized should the authenticity of the signature come into question.

Distribute copies of your health care directive

As a general rule, the more people who have access to copies of your health care directive, the better. At minimum, you should provide a copy to your primary doctor and any medical facility where you expect to receive treatment. If you have given someone medical power of attorney you should provide them with a copy, along with members of your family. Finally, you should keep a copy with your important papers and take one with you when you are traveling.

Providing your doctor with a copy of your health care directive in advance will also give you the opportunity for them to answer any questions they may have and for you to ask whether the doctor is comfortable with the terms.

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 Washington, D.C., health care directives

A health care directive — sometimes referred to as an “advance care directive”—is a key estate planning document because it advises your loved ones as to your wishes with respect to end-of-life medical care. Even if you have made it clear to your family that you would like to stop treatment if you are unresponsive and not going to recover, actually asking that care be withheld can be stressful and upsetting for your loved ones. With a health care directive they can be spared from having to make those difficult decisions on your behalf.

A Washington, D.C., 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 sometimes end up being decided in court.

Washington, D.C., health care directive is a document that specifies the medical treatment you would like to receive if you have been rendered permanently unconscious with no chance for survival. It provides guidance and comfort to your family and ensures they will not need to make difficult end-of-life choices on your behalf.

Common end-of-life health care procedures that are often addressed in health care directives include:

  • CPR
  • Breathing tubes or ventilators
  • Feeding tubes
  • Palliative care that limits treatment to those that would make you comfortable in your final days
  • Donating organs, tissue, and your body

A living will serves a different purpose than your last will and testament. Your will tells your survivors how you would like your property to be distributed after you die and how you would like your loved ones to be cared for. A living will, also referred to 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 dying and unable to communicate.

Washington, D.C., allows anyone who is over the age of 18 and mentally competent to create a health care directive.

In Washington, D.C., your health care directive only goes into effect when you are permanently unresponsive and can’t speak for yourself. If you would like to give someone else the right to dictate your care during times when you are unresponsive or unable to speak for yourself, yet are 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 revoke or cancel your health care directive at any time. When doing so you should destroy any copies of the health care directive to which you have access and provide any parties that had a copy of your health care directive with a signed and dated written revocation. You can also revoke your will verbally, but it must be in the presence of a witness who is at least 18 years old. Under district law, your expressed desire to revoke your health care directive takes precedence over the written document. When possible it is best to revoke legal documents in writing.

You can create a Washington, D.C., health care directive without an attorney by either crafting the document yourself or through FindLaw’s easy-to-use service.

FindLaw is not a law firm, and the forms are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney. If you’d like the help of a lawyer at any point in the process, you can hire a local estate planning attorney using our directory.

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