The Best Sources for District of Columbia Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney Forms
If you've decided it's time to prepare documents directing your health care, congratulations. It may be challenging to think about the kinds of medical treatment you do or do not want at the end of life, but your completed forms are almost guaranteed to bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones.
To get started, you'll need the right forms to fill out. In the District of Columbia, that means obtaining forms for a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. These forms are sometimes combined into a single form, called an Advance Directive.
Which Health Care Forms Are Best?
You have several options for choosing forms in the District of Columbia. You can use the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care forms contained in the District of Columbia Code, but you are not required to do so. Other forms are valid as long as they meet state law requirements, including signing and witnessing. (See D.C. Code §§ 21-2207 and 7-622.)
If you want to quickly prepare a basic, legally valid Advance Directive for the District of Columbia, you can find a link to a free form below. Many people prefer, however, to address their health care wishes in more detail than a one-form-fits-all approach allows.
Following is a brief overview of what the District of Columbia's health care forms cover, as well as your options for making a more comprehensive guide to your health care wishes, if you choose to do so.
About the District of Columbia's Health Care Forms
The Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care forms published by the D.C. legislature are very limited, allowing you few options for expressing your treatment preferences. Because of this, the District of Columbia Hospital Association has created a broader Advance Directive that meets all D.C. rules and allows you to do the following:
Name your health care agent. The first part of the Advance Directive allows you to appoint your health care agent, who will speak for you if you become too ill to speak for yourself. You can name a first choice and an alternate, in case your first choice becomes unable to serve.
Specify your health care wishes. The second section of the form allows you to state whether you do or do not wish to receive life-sustaining treatment if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition or if you are in a persistent vegitative state (permanent coma). It provides a range of choices and invites you to include additional instructions in the document.
State whether you want to be an organ donor. The third part of the Advance Directive allows you express your wishes about organ donation.
What the form doesn't cover. Though the D.C. Hospital Association's form is much more inclusive than the state-published D.C. forms, it does not provide sections to cover issues that many people consider to be important, such as:
- naming a primary physician to oversee your care
- extending your health care agent's power to cover certain post-death matters (for example, authorizing an autopsy or arranging for burial or cremation), and
- electing your agent to serve as your court-appointed guardian to handle all matters related to your personal comfort and care, should that become necessary.
You can make valid District of Columbia health care documents that cover these matters and more using Quicken WillMaker estate planning software or by consulting an experienced lawyer.
Making District of Columbia Health Care Forms with Quicken WillMaker
We're going to be upfront here. The authors of this website, Albin Renauer, J.D., and Shae Irving, J.D., have extensive experience creating tools to help people make their own valid legal forms, and they have spent a couple of decades researching and studying the health care directive laws for the fifty states. Each is a lawyer and contributor to the Quicken WillMaker estate planning software program, available from Nolo.com.
The District of Columbia Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney documents you make with Quicken WillMaker meet all state law requirements and allow you to spell out your wishes for health care in as little or as much detail as you choose. The program walks you step by step through the process of making your documents, explaining each choice along the way. When you're done, you simply print your completed documents and follow the enclosed instructions about how to sign them, have them witnessed or notarized, and get them into the hands of those who may need to know your wishes in the future.
Quicken WillMaker's District of Columbia forms cover all the issues discussed above. If you're ready to get started, you can download Quicken WillMaker and make your forms today.
Where to Get Free Copies of the District of Columbia's Health Care Forms
If do-it-yourself software doesn't appeal to you, or if you simply want to compare your options, we recommend the information and forms available for download from the District of Columbia Hospital Association.
When to Get a Lawyer's Help
Health care forms are specially designed so you can complete them on your own, or with input as needed from your doctor or other health care advisers. That said, if you feel more comfortable enlisting a lawyer to make or review your documents, you should seek help from a qualified estate planning attorney.
For more information about hiring a lawyer to make your documents, including situations when a lawyer's help may be particularly useful, see Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Living Will?