What is an advance directive?

An advance directive is a legal document which tells your health care clinicians what treatments and medical decisions you would or would not want in the event you are unable to speak your wishes for yourself.  Simply put, the "Advance" part of the name refers to the need to complete these forms in advance of/before becoming too ill to do so, and the "Directive" part of the name refers to the directions/wishes you document on the form.

Advance directives are recommended for everyone 18 years of age and older including mature and emancipated minors.  We never know when an accident or serious illness will leave us incapable of making our own health care decisions.  It is best to plan early and prepare for these decisions early.

The three common types of advance directives in are:

  • the Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA),
  • the Living Will (LW), and
  • the Combined Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will (Combined)

The WV Center for End-of-Life Care is pleased to also offer the WV Mental Health Advance Directive (MHAD).  Other advance directives exist per WV health care law but are typically less commonly utilized.


Important note: Directives regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or do not resuscitate (DNR) requests cannot be honored by WV emergency medical service (EMS) providers under the WV health care decisions act.  CPR is the default medical intervention.  If you do not want to receive CPR, please contact your health care clinician about converting your wishes for DNR status into medical orders (DNR or POST)


Visit our FAQ page for more frequently asked questions about advance directives.