Health Care Directives

Health care directives establish an expression of a person’s right to refuse medical treatment, in advance of the actual need to make that decision.  Thus, they are often referred to as "advance directives."  This document is generally written to apply only when there is an incurable, irreversible, terminal condition.  The Washington State Legislature has provided language for these documents in RCW 70.122.030.


  • Takes the load off children and others who would be faced with the difficult decision to “pull the plug.”
  • Can avoid the significant costs of prolonged life-sustaining treatment.


  • There is always the danger that an illness could be erroneously or prematurely diagnosed as terminal or incurable.
  • If the document uses unfamiliar language and definitions, medical providers may refuse to apply it.

Did you know?

  • In many states, this document is known as a “living will.”
  • In Washington, a person designates separately whether they want to refuse artificially-provided food and water, in addition to medical treatment.

If you already have a life-limiting illness, you might consider a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.  This is not a document you get at a law firm, it needs to be signed by a medical provider.  More information is available through WSMA.

Contact Burkhart and Burkhart today to get your health care directive in place.

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