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Advance Directive, Health Care Representative

What Is a Health Representative and What do They Do?

Health Care Representative

Your completed Advance Health Care Directive will document the role your health care representative has.   


Based on your choices, he or she has responsibilities such as:  

  • Deciding the types of medical care, procedures, treatments, or services you receive

  • Identifying your health care providers and where you will receive care

  • Overseeing information about your physical or mental health and your personal affairs, including medical and hospital records

  • Making decisions about autopsy, tissue, and organ donation, and what happens to your body after death


Think carefully about the person you choose to be your health care representative. If you have a few people in mind, consider the following questions:

  • Am I comfortable talking with this person about my wishes and priorities for health care?

  • Will this person honor my wishes, and do as I ask when the time comes?

  • Do I trust this person with my life?

  • Can this person handle conflicting opinions from my family, friends, and health care providers?

  • Does this person live near me or would they travel to be with me if needed?


You may want to talk to more than one person about your wishes before deciding who is the right person to serve in this role. Once you’ve identified someone to serve your representative, ask them if they are willing to take on the responsibility.


Your representative can only make decisions for you if you are too sick to make them yourself. You can specify how much control they have over your medical care, including whether he or she can make a wide range of decisions or only a few specific ones. You can also choose which decisions you’d prefer your doctor to make and outline other preferences, such as requiring your representative to talk with certain family members before making a decision. 

However, it’s important to give your health care representative some flexibility to ensure they can give you the best care possible.

Other important things to know:

  • You can change your health care representative at any time. Fill out a new Advance Directive or just update that section in your existing one and let your family and health care team know about the change.

  • It is a very good idea to appoint one or two alternate representatives if your representative is unavailable for any reason.


Making your health care representative decision official

To make your decision official, you will need to complete the Advanced Directive for health care form for your state. You can find, download, and print free advance directive forms for your state. You may need to have your form witnessed or notarized, so be sure to read the directions closely.


What to do after deciding on your health care representative

After you name your health care representative, make sure they have the right information:

  • Give them a copy of the signed Advanced Directive 

  • Make sure your representative knows the names and contact information for your health care providers.

  • Provide your health care providers with copies 


Keep the conversation going over time. As your care preferences and decisions change, keep your representative informed. If you change your representative, be sure to notify the person and provide updated copies to all your health care providers.

The state of Oregon just updated the state's Advance Directive. The most recent version is dated 2022. If you are an OREGON resident, get started by going to Oregon Health Authority website to download an Advanced Directive form:



For other states and for other good information go to The National Institute on Aging:

I am a Certified Advanced Steps® ACP (Advance Care Planning)  Facilitator. If you feel you need some guidance in understanding, clarifying, and defining your care planning choices in order to complete your Advance Directive and other documents, please contact me.

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