The law combined the former “living will” with the former “power of attorney for healthcare” into one comprehensive document now called Advance Health Care Directives. Utah Code 75-2a-117 (formerly 75-2a-1117), enacted in 2007, gave a statutory right for each of us to direct certain medical care and appoint an agent to further enable our choices.
The two primary components of these directives are, first, the appointment of an agent, and second, direction to follow healthcare wishes. With the appointment of an agent, the agent may have certain powers, such as the power to speak to a doctor when we cannot speak to one ourselves. Other powers can be given or withheld from the agent. The directions for healthcare wishes allow us to describe when we want the doctors to “pull the plug”. The default choices are common, but customizable to just about anything a person could want.
Advance Health Care Directives are important
Advance Health Care Directives save time and money, but most importantly save hassle and pain. Because of privacy laws and liability for doctors taking directions from someone other than their patient, Advance Health Care Directives play a key roll in determining who can speak with the doctors and who makes decisions for a person when they cannot speak for themselves.
Advance Health Care Directives also take away the guilt that comes with deciding when to pull the plug. If one pulls the plug early, are they murdering? What if they do not pull the plug, are they torturing? These choices are difficult for anyone to make, but under stressful times, not knowing what you want, your relatives are put through unnecessary trials. Please do not put yourself and your family through that.
How Advance Health Care Directives are used
Advance Health Care Directives are a form you provide your family and health care providers which designates an agent for you and lets your family and health care providers know your health care wishes. These forms are often provided to your health care providers well in advance of any circumstances that necessitate their use. You health care providers will usually put them on file for easy access. If you are ever in a situation in which you need them, they are ready to help you.
What you don’t want to do is bury them in papers or hide them in your filing cabinets at home. If the form cannot be found, it is not even worth the paper it was printed on.
Advance Health Care Directives fit into an estate plan
No other estate planning document deals as directly with your healthcare as your Advance Health Care Directives. All the other estate planning documents deal primarily with your property and finances.
How you know if you need Advance Health Care Directives
Knowing whether or not you need Advance Health Care Directives is simple. If you are breathing and over the age of 18, you should have your own Advance Health Care Directives already filled out. Medical emergencies can happen to anybody at any time. No one can ever predict exactly when they will need Advance Health Care Directives. Get if filled out and do it now. Even if you don’t need any other estate planning work done, find a free form online and fill it out.
When do I need to change my Advance Health Care Directives?
You should periodically review your Advance Health Care Directives to be sure that you still want your agent and his or her successor agent to act as your agent. Your agent may have moved away, died, or even moved out of your life. Perhaps you want someone else to be your agent now.
You should also periodically review your documents to be sure that you still want the choices you have made. As time passes, you may or may not want the same healthcare decisions carried out that you had chosen years ago.
If either of these cases fit you, then you should re-do your Advance Health Care Directives.
Where should I go for my Advance Health Care Directives?
There are many sources one can go for an Advance Health Care Directives form. In fact, the form is proscribed in the statute. What this means is that you can Google the form and find one for free. In most estate plans drafted by attorneys, the attorneys add this form in as part of a package deal. They also give personal attention to their client to help them fill it out. Attorney Paul R. Maxfield emphasizes estate planning in his practice at Maxfield Law and includes Advance Health Care Directives with his estate planning packages.
To see what Paul Maxfield can do to for your estate planning needs, call Maxfield Law today. (385) 298-0700.