Types of Advance Care Directives​

What Are Advance Care Directives or Living Wills?

An advance directive is a legal document of your medical care wishes and it provides guidance about what types of treatments you may want in the case of a future medical emergency; it is also where you appoint a designate to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. 

You can prepare a directive yourself, or you can hire an attorney to help you. You can get free advance directive forms from your physician, a hospital, or your county or state’s Office on Aging.

Here is the latest version of the California Advance Care Directive.

What is a POLST?

A Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is neither an advance directive nor a replacement for one. 

The POLST form is a medical order that tells emergency health care professionals what you want done now during a medical crisis where the patient cannot speak for him or herself.

Here is a sample of the latest California POLST form.  

Comparison Chart of Advance Care Directives vs POLST Forms

While these two documents sound similar, they are distinctly different. You can download this chart here.