Pennsylvania Health Care Directives and Living Wills in Under an Hour
Experienced attorneys have partnered with FindLaw to create Pennsylvania health care directive and living will forms that you can use with confidence. With FindLaw’s guided process, it’s easy to make your medical treatment wishes clear if something happens to you and you can no longer communicate them.
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Quick, Reliable Pennsylvania Health Care Directive and Living Wills From Anywhere
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 and living will 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.
Pennsylvania Health Care Directive and Living Will Options for Everyone
Health Care Directive & Living Will
For One Person
A do-it-yourself health care directive & living will that’s easy to personalize.
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For One Person
All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan.
How It Works
Create your health care directive & living will in under an hour.
Answer Some Questions
Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy and which medical treatments you would request or refuse.
Create an Account
Creating an account is easy, quick, and secure. Save your information as you go and return when you have time.
Complete Your Document
Once you answer the relevant questions, we do the hard part and create your unique document.
Print, Sign & Make It Legal
Print and sign your document according to the instructions. Give a copy to your doctors and agent/proxy.
What’s Next To Make My Pennsylvania Health Care Directive and Living Will Valid?
Follow these steps: See full process
Make decisions on potential medical issues.
A health care directive and living will 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 and living will, 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 and living will. 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 and living will.
According to the Pennsylvania Living Will Act, you must sign and date your health care directive and living will. 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 and living will.
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 and living will 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
Ready to get started on Your Pennsylvania healthcare directive & living will? It’s free to start.Create My Form
Pennsylvania Health Care Directive and Living Will FAQs
To create a legally binding Pennsylvania health care directive and living will, 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 and living will 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 and living will is valid under Pennsylvania law if you executed it in compliance with the laws of that state. However, a health care directive and living will 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 and living will, 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 and living will 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 and living will do not go into effect simply because you are hospitalized or severely ill.
A health care directive and living will 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 and living will 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 and living will. 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 and living will 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 and living will 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 and living will that revokes all prior ones. With FindLaw, you can create a personalized Pennsylvania health care directive and living will 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.
Complex Family Situation? Need Additional Guidance?
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