Storing Your Advance Directives for Health Care

wooden file cabinet

Your living will and durable power of attorney for health care are important legal documents. Keep your signed original documents in a secure, but accessible, place. Do not put the originals in your safe-deposit box or in another location from which it would be difficult for you or your health-care agent to retrieve them at whatever time they might be needed.

Give photocopies of the signed, dated originals to whomever you have designated to carry out your wishes. In addition to your health-care agent and alternate agent(s), the recipients of these copies should include your doctor(s), key family members, clergy, and even close friends who might become involved in your health care and medical treatment. It’s wise to keep a copy in your vehicles or to carry a wallet card that refers to the documents’ existence and location and names your health-care agent(s). If you enter a hospital, nursing home, or hospice, ask that photocopies be filed with your medical records.

flexible file container

In case you decide to make changes in your advance directives, keep a list of who has current copies so that you can provide them with updated versions.

In some states, you can post your living will on a computer registry that your doctors and loved ones can easily access by password. Check with a local hospital to see if this service is available in your state.

Lesson Contents

I. Introduction

II. Advance Directives for Health Care

a. Living Will
b. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
c. Obtaining Advance Directive Documents for Your State
d. Storing Your Advance Directives for Health Care
e. Changing or Updating Your Documents

III. Starting an Advance Directive Discussion

V. Learn More


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Communicate Your Advance Directives for Health Care belongs to a series called Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you organize important household papers and begin preparing your estate plan.