Advance Directives

A growing number of people are stating their health care choices in writing while they are still able to make these decisions.

These legal documents are called Advance Directives, more commonly known as a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. You should talk to your physician about the effects of withholding or withdrawing different treatments. It is also a good idea to discuss your decision with your family. While it is not necessary to consult an attorney for your Advance Directive to be a legally binding document, it is often helpful.


What is an Advance Directive?
An Advance Directive is a document stating your health care choices or naming someone to make the choices for you if you become unable to do so.
Iowa law provides two types of Advance Direcives:
  • The Declaration Relating to Use of Life-Sustaining Procedures (commonly known as a Living Will)
  • The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a document directing your physician that certain life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn if you are in a terminal condition and unable to decide for yourself.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document through which you name another person known as your "Attorney-in-fact" or "agent" to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them. This agent is required to make decisions according to directions you may provide in the document or otherwise. If your wishes are not known, your agent shall make decisions in your best interests.
Where Can I Get a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Form?
The Iowa State Bar Association has prepared a form containing both types of Advance Directives. Single copies are available for free by writing to: Iowa State Bar Association, P.O. Box 4906, Des Moines, IA 50306. You can also access the form by visiting
As a Patient at Mercy River Hills:
If you have an Advance Directive in place, please bring a copy with you to your surgery. Upon registration, our staff members will take a copy for your file. Should you need to be transferred to a hospital for additional treatment at any point during your visit, a copy will accompany you and your medical records. Upon admission to the hospital, your Advance Directives will be carried out according to your wishes. If you have any additional questions regarding Advance Directives, please do not hesitate to ask our staff members or your physician.