Key Health Care Forms and Documents that Keep Patients in Control

Last revised: 10/02/2023 (under review)
By W. Kolber, MHA

The linked documents in this post are examples of the health care forms and legal documents that are used to help people keep control of their health care choices. Since states have different laws please make sure to check with your State Health Department and/or an attorney familiar with the laws in your state to ensure you understand what is required in your state.

  1. Living Will: Also known as an “advance directive,” a living will outlines the patient’s preferences for medical treatment in case they are unable to communicate their wishes. It often addresses end-of-life decisions, such as the use of life-sustaining treatments. 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. Here are some ways you might find free advance directive forms in your state in English and Spanish.
  2. Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPA): This document designates a person (an “agent” or “proxy”) to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient if they become unable to make those decisions themselves. The agent’s authority is specified in the document by the patient. It may be as limited or broad as the patient prefers.
  3. Advance Healthcare Directives: This document combines a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. It lets patients outline their medical preferences and designate a healthcare agent. So what happens if the agent who was appointed in the POA tries to go against the wishes of the principal written within the living will? Most states will proclaim that the preferences of the patient override the authority of the attorney-in-fact.
  4. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order: A DNR order instructs medical professionals not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case of cardiac arrest. This decision is often made in consultation with the patient, their family, and their healthcare provider. A DNR must be obtained from and signed by a doctor – this is not a form you can download on the Internet and sign on your own. Because it is a doctor’s order, only a physician can revoke a DNR.
  5. HIPAA Authorization: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers to protect the privacy of a patient’s medical information. A HIPAA authorization form allows the patient to grant specific individuals or entities access to their medical records and information.
  6. Medical Release Form: Similar to a HIPAA authorization, a medical release form allows the patient to grant permission to healthcare providers to share their medical information with specific individuals or organizations, such as family members or other medical facilities.
  7. Financial Power of Attorney: While not exclusive to healthcare, a financial power of attorney designates someone to manage the patient’s financial affairs if they become incapacitated. This can be relevant for handling medical bills and insurance claims.
  8. Organ Donation Consent Form: Patients can express their intention to donate organs or tissues upon their death or when they are still alive by signing an organ donation consent form. This decision can be crucial for saving lives through organ transplantation.
  9. Patient Registration Form: This form collects basic information about the patient, including contact details, personal information, medical history, insurance information, financial information, consent and authorization, emergency contacts, signatures and dates. It is typically filled out when a patient establishes care with a new healthcare provider. The specific content and format of patient registration forms varies by healthcare facility and may also be influenced by legal and regulatory requirements.
  10. Release of Liability: In certain cases, patients might need to sign a release of liability form before participating in activities that carry inherent risks, such as clinical trials or experimental treatments.
  11. Letter to Request Copies of Medical Records:
  12. Letter to Appeal a Denial of Coverage: Example of a letter that can be used to appeal a denial of health insurance coverage for a diagnostic test or a medical procedure.


  1. NIH, National Institute on Aging, NIA
  2. American Association of Retired People, AARP
  3. American Academy of Family Physicians
  4. Colorado Gerontological Society
  5. The Center for Healthcare Rights
  6. USA.Gov
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health

All Older Americans Need a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

So many times you hear a story about a family member or friend who is trying to arrange for the care, payment of services, or other needs for a loved one and the provider or business will not speak with them. This happens way more often than you might think, and it can happen fast.

Consider what could happen if your loved one, who currently lives an active life in their home, fell and required hospitalization, rehabilitation, and eventually long-term care. What if they become fragile, are heavily medicated, battling other illnesses, or they are on a downhill slide? How will you know that their preferences will be heard and acted on? Will they be at the mercy of a very broken, over-whelming and fragmented health care system, or will there be someone to step in and help make sure that their preferences are executed?


A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document most commonly giving one person (the “agent”) power to act for another person (the “principal”) when the principal is not able to speak or make decisions for themselves. A POA that is not modified by the “principal” or overridden by a court lasts until the death of the principal. A POA can also be limited by the principal and grant the agent specific authority to execute a task like selling a car or property.

The agent is always expected to act in the principal’s best interest. Agents can have broad or limited legal authority to make decisions for and execute contracts for the principal about property, finances, medical care, and other issues. An agent cannot change the principal’s will, make decisions for the principal after death, or change the POA to another person or agent. Finally, although not common two or more people can have POA. The POA needs to be “Durable” to remain in effect after the principal becomes incapacitated or dies. If the POA does not specifically say it is durable the POA ends when the principal becomes incapacitated. It’s possible although not common to give two or more agents your POA.

Critical Tip: Third parties, especially banks and financial institutions, have frequently challenged the authority of an Agent using a POA. In these types of case the courts are used to order the third party to honor the POA.


When a POA is not acting in the principal’s interest, it may become necessary to override their authority. This is done by filing a petition in court challenging the agent. If the court finds the agent is not acting in the principal’s best interest, it can revoke the POA and appoint a Guardian.

Elder Law attorneys are very helpful when trying to understand how to execute and use a POA based on your circumstances. They often provide an initial consultation for no charge. Although free POA forms are available online there are many issues to consider. We recommend using a qualified, local attorney 100% of the time.  The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys will help you find the right attorney. Spare yourself and your family the pain and anguish of trying to help a loved one when they need it most. Learn about POA and DPOA. Find a local attorney to help you execute the right tool for your needs. This will help you keep control of your loved-one’s safety, care, and quality of life, and support your own well-being as well.