Advance Directives & Orders

Although it is hard to talk about the final phase of life, it can be a great gift to our family and loved ones to prepare them in advance for the sometimes difficult and distressing decisions that must be made. Preparing a few simple legal forms known as advance directives can help ensure that your wishes are respected and that your health care decisions stay in the hands of people you trust.
Advance directives are a way of making your voice heard when you can no longer speak. They allow you to appoint someone to make your health care decisions for you when you no longer can and to administer or withhold treatment and procedures. Advance directives are not just for the elderly. All people who desire to direct their medical care in the future should complete an advance directive.

Compassion and Support at the End of Life
Individuals facing serious life-threatening illness and approaching death deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion and to receive care that is focused on the individual’s goals for care. Families need and deserve to receive support. To achieve their goals, individuals need to plan ahead, know their choices, make sound decisions and share their wishes with their loved ones and health care professionals. This web site aims to educate and empower patients, families, health care and other professionals to accomplish this goal. 

Family Health Care Decisions Act
Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA) is a law that allows family members to make decisions regarding medical treatment for their loved ones who have lost the ability to make such decisions and who have not prepared an advance directive stating their wishes. The law includes many safeguards to ensure that the patient receives sound medical treatment and that decisions are made consistent with the patient’s wishes and best interests.
In July of 2011, New York State passed a new law expanding the FHCDA to include decisions regarding hospice care. The law allows surrogates to make decisions regarding hospice care regardless of where the decision is made and where the hospice care is provided.

Health Care Proxy Information and Form
Choosing a health care agent or Proxy helps to ensure you receive the care YOU WANT at the end of life. Your health care proxy should be someone you trust -  a family member or close friend. Your Proxy will make medical decisions for you when you no longer can. You can specify your Proxy to make all your health care decisions or only certain ones. Your Health Care Proxy can also decide how your wishes apply as your condition changes. Appointing a health care proxy ensures that providers follow your wishes. The form allows individuals to designate a person to serve as their agent and make health care decisions on their behalf if they should lose the capacity to do so for themselves. The form includes space for instructions concerning organ and/or tissue donation

Planning for Advanced Cancer Care
This booklet is designed to help people with advanced cancer and their family and caregivers understand the diagnosis and treatment options, discuss these options for care throughout the course of the illness, and find support.

PREPARE is an interactive website called that assists people to think through how health care decisions would be made if they are unable or unwilling to guide their own health care. The site is user friendly, easy to navigate, has helpful videos and a narrator for every aspect of advance care planning one should address. PREPARE walks you through an easy to follow five step process with content that is tailored to each person’s individual needs and preferences.

A Living Will only becomes effective if you are determined to have a terminal illness or are at the end-of-life and when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes. The form is usually part of an advance directive that also allows a person to select a health care agent to make decisions on their behalf.  You can download a Living Will Form Here.

In New York State, the Living Will was authorized by the courts (not by legislation) so there are no requirements guiding its use. But, a Living Will can serve an important role to provide clear evidence of your wishes.

Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST)
The Department of Health has approved a physician order form, the Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST), that can be used statewide by health care providers and facilities as the legal equivalent of an inpatient Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. MOLST was created to provide a single document that would function as an actionable medical order and could transition with a patient through all health care settings. It is intended that the form will be transported with the patient between different health care settings in order that their wishes for life-sustaining treatment and CPR will be clearly indicated. For more information, visit