Active duty military members and their families may move residences during their service, raising concerns that an Advance Directive may not be recognized by one state if it was completed in another state.  To help overcome this hurdle, Congress passed a law (10 U.S. Code § 1044c) which says that states must honor ADs that meet the requirements of § 1044c.

That law also says that the Department of Defense (DOD) Advance Directive does not have to:

  • Use a particular form
  • Have particular wording
  • Be recorded in a particular way

According to the DOD, an Advance Directive is a written document that has either or both of the following:

  • A health care power of attorney (also known as an agent)
  • A living will (which are your wishes for end-of-life care)


Although the DOD has written the above requirements for an Advance Directive, they have not created a recommended form for military members and their families to use.

The DOD definition of an Advance Directive does not include:

  • Giving instructions about health care treatment other than life-prolonging treatment (including mental health care)
  • Picking an agent to make decisions for you about your mental health care

DOD health care providers are required to teach their military patients about Advance Directives, but are not required to help their patients complete one.  DOD expects that legal counsel will help their clients complete an AD.  If you are an active duty military member or a family member of an active duty serviceperson who would like help completing an Advance Directive, please talk to your legal counsel.

Advance Directives and Active Duty Military