The 5 D’s of Advance Directives

An Advance Directive is a set of documents that are written statements of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment to be used in the event that the person cannot make the decisions for themselves. A Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney are commonly included in an Advanced Directive.


“Modify or create a new Advance Directive if yours does not
reflect your intentions.”


Just like any other estate planning document, it is important to review these documents on a regular basis to make sure that they reflect your current wishes. The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging has come up with an easy way to think about the guidelines for reviewing your Advance Directive called the 5 D’s.


1. Decade – Go over your documents when you start a new decade of your life


2. Death – Review your wishes whenever you experience the death of a loved one.


3. Divorce – Take a look at what your plan says when you experience a divorce or other major family change.


4. Diagnosis – Think about how your wishes might change if you are diagnosed with a serious health condition.


5. Decline – Ensure that your plan continues to reflect your current situation if you experience a significant decline or deterioration of an existing health condition, especially when it diminishes your ability to live independently.


advance directive checklist

“Don’t forget to redistribute your new or modified Advance Directive to key people!”

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