Finalizing a Health Care Directive in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, you must sign your document and have it witnessed or notarized.

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In Rhode Island, your health care directive may include one or two documents, depending on your wishes. In your Declaration (commonly called a living will), you can describe and document the kind of health care you would like to receive if you can no longer speak for yourself.  In your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you can name a trusted person (called your health care agent) to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are no longer able to do so.

After you make your documents, you must finalize them to make them legal. In Rhode Island, finalization for each document follows different rules.


You and two witnesses must sign your declaration. Neither of your witnesses related to you by blood or marriage.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

How you finalize your power of attorney for health care depends on what powers you give to your agent. If you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, you must sign your document and have it notarized. If you do not grant this power, you must sign your document and you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses or notarized.

If your document will be notarized, the notary may not be:

  • related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
  • entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.

If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:

  • under the age of 18
  • your health care agent
  • a health care provider
  • an employee of a health care provider
  • the operator of a community care facility, or
  • an employee of an operator of a community care facility.

After Your Documents are Finalized

After you and your witnesses sign your health care documents, they are legally valid. Keep the originals in your files and give a copies to your health care agent, if you named one. To ensure that you get the health care that you want, it’s a good idea to make your wishes widely known. So, you might also consider giving copies of your documents to your physician, your hospital, your HMO or other insurance plan, and trusted family members and friends.

Review your documents every few years to make sure that they still reflect your wishes. Also, consider making new documents if you move to another state, get married or divorced, or if your agent is no longer able to supervise your wishes.

Your properly finalized declaration and power of attorney for health care will stay in effect until you revoke them, if you ever choose to do so. You can revoke your documents at any time. The best way to revoke is to do it in writing. If possible, also collect and tear up all copies that you may have distributed to others. Finally, tell everyone who knows about your health care documents that you have revoked them.

Get More Information

Learn more about Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

Learn more about Rhode Island Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care.

When you make an a health care directive with Quicken WillMaker Plus, it will conform to all of Rhode Island’s laws about declarations and powers of attorney for health care. And it will also print with plain English instructions that detail how to make them legal. 

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