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Cedars-Sinai Blog

Advance Healthcare Directives: FAQ

An advance healthcare directive is a way to make sure your family and healthcare providers know your preferences if you're temporarily unable to communicate.

If you're ever unable to express your healthcare wishes, an advance healthcare directive (AHD) can ensure you have a voice in your treatment.

An AHD isn't just for end-of-life care. It's also a way to make sure your family and healthcare providers know your preferences if you're temporarily unable to communicate.


"Even young and healthy people can find themselves temporarily unable to provide decisions about their healthcare."


An AHD is a legal document that consists of two parts:

  1. The first part is where you name the person you want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. (This person is often referred to as your healthcare agent.)
  2. The second part is where you state your healthcare goals, values, and preferences (also called a living will).

We spoke to Sonja Taylor, a clinical social worker at Cedars-Sinai, about the importance of AHDs for individuals and families.

Why is completing an AHD so important?

When do you recommend people complete their advance healthcare directive?

ST: It is never too early to complete an advance healthcare directive.

You could find yourself incapacitated—even temporarily—at any time.

It's important to complete an AHD to ensure you have a voice in your healthcare if that happens.

Your values may change as you grow and continue to move through life. You can update your AHD at any time to ensure it aligns with your wishes.

What are some common misconceptions about AHDs?



Is an AHD different than a living will?

Do you have advice for younger people who want to have "the talk" about AHDs with their aging loved ones?



Why are some people resistant to talking about advance care planning?


Cedars-Sinai offers free downloadable advance healthcare directives in several languages along with step-by-step instructions and other advance care planning tools.