Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning (ACP) is an ongoing process that requires open discussion with family, caregivers and healthcare providers. The exercise will help you think about your goals, values and beliefs. These may all vary as your health condition changes, so you should review your documentation every time your medical condition changes.

The Twin Cities Medical Society and its Foundation is working with a number of media partners to encourage families and communities to talk about end-of-life care choices. The media campaign highlights a step-by-step program to help you get started. Click here to be taken to the Honoring Choices® Web page:

Honoring Choices Minnesota® uses the training, principles, and methodology of Respecting Choices,® a nationally recognized model of Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI.

Advance Directives are the documents a person completes while still of sound body and mind. The primary instruments that serve as AD documents are the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC or Health Care Proxy).

  • Living Will – The Living Will (LW) is a document summarizing a person’s preferences for future medical care. The typical LW takes effect if the person is terminally ill without chance of recovery, and outlines the desire to withhold heroic measures.

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) – Also known as a Health Care Proxy, or Healthcare Power of Attorney, the DPAHC is a signed legal document authorizing another person to make medical decisions on the patient’s behalf. DPAHCs are important because a Living Will is limited in the range of decisions it can cover.

  • Combined Directives (CD) – The State of Minnesota recognizes a combined form that includes components of the Living Will while also designating a decision maker in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. If you live part-time in another state, you may still need both the LW and the DPAHC. Click here to read the Minnesota Statute.

    You can download the legal forms at the bottom of this page, but it is recommended that you consult a qualified legal professional before finalizing the documents.

    As long as you can make your own decisions, you can revoke the DPAHC or CD. Once you have completed the documents, you should make copies and distribute them to your family, friends, and healthcare providers. Keep the originals at home, not in a safe deposit box.

    One additional document that is gaining popularity is the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Having an AD doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be followed in all situations. For example, if Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are called to your home, they may not know about your wishes and cannot go on someone’s “word” that you have an Advance Directive. In this case, the POLST serves as a Doctor’s order. A POLST should be kept where paramedics can easily find it. Learn more about this initiative and download forms at


    Honoring Choices Minnesota® forms are available in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, and Spanish.