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Advanced Directives

Use these links to download an advance directive form and instructions.

The form may now be filled out on your computer and printed. You can use it to make health care choices. If you prefer, we can mail you one copy. Email your request for a printed copy to, call 410-576-7000, or write to the Office of the Attorney General, Health Decisions Policy Division, 300 W. Preston Street, 3rd floor, Baltimore, MD 21201. This is a free service, limited to one copy only; however, you are welcome to make as many copies yourself as you want.

What You Should Know About Advance Directives

Everyone has the right to make personal decisions about health care. Doctors ask whether you will accept treatment by discussing the risks and benefits and working with you to decide. But what if you can no longer make your own decisions? Anyone can wind up hurt or sick and unable to make decisions about medical treatments. An advance directive speaks for you if you are unable to, and helps make sure your religious and personal beliefs will be respected. It’s a useful legal document for an adult of any age to plan for future healthcare needs. While no one is required to have an advance directive, it’s smart to think ahead and make a plan now. If you don’t have an advance directive—and later you can’t speak for yourself—usually your next of kin will then make health care decisions for you. But even if you want your next of kin to make decisions for you, an advance directive can make things easier for your loved ones by helping to prevent misunderstandings or arguments about your care.

What can you do in an advance directive?

​An advance directive allows you to decide who you want to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. You can also use it to say what kinds of treatments you do or don’t want, especially the treatments often used in a medical emergency or near the end of a person’s life.​​​

Health Care Agent. Someone you name to make decisions about your health care is called a “health care agent” (sometimes also called a “durable power of attorney for health care,” but, unlike other powers of attorney, this is not about money). You can name a family member or someone else. This person has the authority to see that doctors and other health care providers give you the type of care you want, and that they do not give you treatment against your wishes. Pick someone you trust to make these kinds of serious decisions and talk to this person, to make sure they understand and are willing to accept this responsibility.

Guidance for healthcare agents and surrogate decision-makers is available in the handbook “Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else: A Guide for Marylanders.” Click here for a PDF copy of this handbook. A brochure about this handbook is available here.

Here is a downloadable copy of a “Living Will,” instructions are included so please read through it carefully.

You will require Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to read this document. Acrobat Reader can be obtained for free by clicking here.