Take Charge Toolkit

Write it down – document your decisions, and share your form(s) with your agent, doctor, and loved ones.

Now that you’ve made some decisions about what you want for your future health care, it’s important to document this in a legally recognized form. By sharing this documentation, you will give your loved ones, health care agent, and doctor the tools they need to honor your choices.

In California, an Advance Health Care Directive is the form used to legally appoint your chosen health care agent, and to document the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations.

In addition, ask your doctor to help you complete a POLST form. In California, the POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) provides specific direction to doctors and emergency personnel about the use of CPR and other medical interventions.

Give copies of your completed and signed Advance Health Care Directive to:

  • Your doctor – make sure they are put in your medical records
  • Your health care agent
  • Your family, friends, and loved ones

Keep a list of everyone who got a copy of your Advance Health Care Directive, so you will know who to notify when you update your form.

Treat this document like other important paperwork:

  • Keep your original Advance Health Care Directive in a safe place where you can get it quickly if you need it.
  • Put a copy in a place that is easy to get to, like the glove box of your car.
  • If you travel, bring your Advance Health Care Directive with you, or consider making a wallet card stating that you have an Advance Health Care Directive, and including the name and contact information of your health care agent.


Completing and sharing your Advance Health Care Directive while you are healthy is the single most important step you can take to ensure that your care at the end of life is consistent with what matters most to you.

Now what? Review and repeat these steps regularly. Or, return to Step 3 – choose your health care agent.