Do-it-yourself: There are several free or low-cost resources available today to help you write your advance directive, and it takes only a few minutes from start to finish.
One that’s completely free to use is Caring Connections, a resource created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. They provide state-specific advance directive forms with instructions on their website (caringinfo.org) that you can download and print for free.
Or you can call 800-658-8898 and they will mail them to you and answer any questions you may have.
You may also be able to get free advance directive forms from your doctor’s office, hospital or local health department.
Or, for only $5, an even better tool is the Five Wishes living will. Created by Aging with Dignity, a nonprofit advocacy organization, Five Wishes is a simple do-it-yourself document that covers all facets of an advance directive that will help you create a more detailed customized document. Legally valid in 42 states, to learn more or to receive a copy, visit agingwithdignity.org or call 888-594-7437. Five Wishes can also be completed online for free for a limited time at fivewishes.org.
Get legal help: If, however, you decide you would rather use a lawyer to draft your advance directive, look for one who specializes in estate planning and health care related matters. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (naela.org) and the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (naepc.org) websites are good resources that have directories to help you find someone in your area.
Costs will vary depending on which state you reside in, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $500 to get one made.
Tell your family: To insure your final wishes are followed, it’s very important that you tell your family members, health care proxy and doctor so they all know what you want. You should also provide copies of your advanced directive to everyone involved to help prevent stress and arguments later.