Do I need an Advance Directive and a POLST form?

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The Advance Directive for Health Care (Advance Directive) and the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) are both important health care documents. The POLST form, when needed, is used in addition to an Advance Directive and does not replace it.

Advance Directive:

  • Is for anyone 18 and older or who is an emancipated minor or who is married.
  • Is necessary to appoint a health care representative and provide instructions for future life-sustaining treatments.
  • Appoints a health care representative to communicate your wishes regarding treatment and end of life decisions when you cannot communicate them yourself.
  • Is not recognized by first responders/emergency medical personnel.
  • Guides inpatient treatment decisions when made available.
  • Is recommended for all adults, regardless of their health status.


  • Is for persons of any age with a chronic or life-limiting illness.
  • Gives people with serious illness or frailty more control to direct the kinds of treatment they receive.
  • Provides medical orders for current treatment.
  • Is recognized as a medical order by first responders/emergency medical personnel when made available.
  • Guides inpatient treatment decisions when made available.
  • Requires a signature from a physician (MD or DO), physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to be valid and should only be filled out and signed after discussion between the patient and health care provider.
  • Is registered with the POLST Registry unless the patient opts out.

Both the POLST and the Advance Directive should be reviewed periodically, or anytime your health condition changes, to make sure they express your current wishes regarding treatment.

An experienced Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney can help you understand your options for controlling your health care and assist you with executing an Advance Directive. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.

If you would like to learn more about basic estate planning, click here to receive our FREE Legal/Financial Planning Guide.