Why Everyone Needs an Advanced Directive (And Where to Get Yours)

Advance Directives save families a lot of strife when planning end-of-life care — here’s your guide to choosing the right one.

When it comes to death, even cynics become superstitious — could the thought itself make it happen on the spot? The truth is, death is not contagious. Like forgotten cheese in the fridge, ignoring it won’t make it go away, it’ll just make for a more frightening cleanup later. Facing the loss of a loved one is tough enough. Guessing what they wanted makes it that much harder and can lead to conflict and confusion for families. Do your dear ones a favor and get clear on your end-of-life wishes now. How do you feel about being kept alive by machines? Are you okay with living the rest of your life with a feeding tube? An Advance Directive is a legal form where you can make such wishes clear.

Unlike a ‘Do Not Resuscitate‘ or ‘DNR’ which tells doctors to make no attempt at revival, (only recommended only for those already terminally ill or of seriously advanced age) an Advance Directive allows you to pick and choose which medical interventions you would like to opt out of. It explores some gray areas and allows you to draw your own line. The Advance Directive helps you clarify your wishes and share them formally with your loved ones and care providers. The form is legally binding.

Different versions of the Advance Directive form can overwhelm but you can’t go wrong with these sites.

Five Wishes

Five Wishes family end of life planner
Image: fivewishes.org

Probably the most downloaded Advance Directive form in America, over 30 million families have used Five Wishes. The site provides information and icebreakers for discussion around your decisions so you can finally have that conversation with your loved ones.  The form is written in plain English so putting pen to paper is the hardest part.


Living Will

A comprehensive guide with state-by-state Advance Directive forms for anyone living in the US. The forms are printable, reader-friendly and free because sometimes the world makes sense.

GYST (Get Your S*#$ together)

Family Planning

Following the sudden, tragic loss of her husband and father of her young child, Chanel Reynolds made it her mission to help people get their affairs in order long before old age. GYST helps you organize everything from life insurance to end of life wishes. You can create a Living Will, a kind of Advance Directive that takes effect when the patient becomes terminally ill.

Law Depot (Canada)

Legalize your final wishes

With Law Depot you can create an end-of-life plan, a Living Will and Power of Attorney forms that are legally sound in Canada. (If you don’t live in the US or Canada, a simple Google search of ‘Advance Directive Form’ or ‘Living Will’ plus your country should put you on the right track.)


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