Advance Planning

Advance planning means making decisions about the future and putting in writing your wishes, just in case something happens and you are unable to speak for yourself. It can include:

  • Your wishes for medical care during serious illness
  • Your wishes for continuing or stopping medical treatments at the end of life
  • Who you want to speak for you if you are in an accident or too ill to talk about your wishes
  • Sharing your personal values with your loved ones
  • Planning for your estate and making a will

These are your decisions to make and the decisions are based on your personal values, preferences and discussions with your loved ones.

Deciding About Treatments

When you are diagnosed with a serious illness, it’s important to get information on the types of treatments that are available. Then, you need to decide what types of treatment you would or would not want. You can put advance directives into writing to give your medical providers and family some guidance on what you would want if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Communicating Your End-of-Life Wishes

Decisions about end-of-life care are deeply personal, and are based on your values and beliefs. It’s impossible to anticipate everything that might happen, so it’s important to think in general about what is important to you. Conversations that focus on your wishes and beliefs will relieve loved ones and medical providers of the need to guess what you would want.

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions

If you are in an accident or have an illness that leaves you unable to talk about your wishes, who will speak for you? You need to choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes and have them agree to speak for you. You will discuss with them all of your wishes and personal beliefs so that they can make decisions according to your preferences. You will need to have at least one backup person with the same information. There are some excellent resources to help you with this.

Sharing Your Values

Putting things in writing is important, but will not cover everything that might happen. That’s why it’s important that the people in your life understand your values and that you are clear about what you do and don’t want. Just because it’s in writing does not mean that every doctor, hospital or provider will have access to your instructions. If you are unable to speak, the people around you must know how you feel and be able to speak on your behalf. Many people find these discussions difficult. We can help you start these conversations and help your family understand your illness and the options that are available. See Talking to Loved Ones

Estate Planning and Wills

Your attorney will help you with the legal documents that you might needs. Other things that you might want to discuss with your family include burial arrangements, memorial services and notifications. Your hospice team can assist you in working on these options.


The Conversation Project 

American Bar Association – Consumer’s Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization – Are You Traveling Without a Map? A Layperson’s Guide to Advance Care Planning

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization – Download Your State’s Advance Directives