Living Wills and Health Care Directives – What is Involved?

 By: Blake Vanderhyde
The following is an example of a Health Care Directive (many people still refer to this as a Living Will). It is broken down into 3 basic parts. 1) Appointment of the Health Care Agent. 2) Health Care Instructions. 3) Making the Document Legal. Like most legal documents, it can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. The purpose for making this easily available to the public is simple. To help people know what to expect before contacting a lawyer and having him or her draft a directive for them. Nobody likes thinking about their demise or incapacity. However, dealing with such issues is a necessary part of life.

This example should not be used as a substitute for getting solid legal advice from a licensed attorney. Every individual is different. Please consult a lawyer in your area to discuss your specific estate planning needs.

HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE

I, ___________________________________, understand this document allows me to do One or both of the following:

PART I: Name another person (called the health care agent) to make health care decisions for me if I am unable to decide or speak for myself. My health care agent must make health care decisions for me based on the instructions I provide in this document (Part II), if any, the wishes I have made known to him or her, or must act in my best interest if I have not made my health care wishes known.

And/or

PART II: Give health care instructions to guide others making health care decisions for me. If I have named a health care agent, these instructions are to be used by the agent. These instructions may also be used by my health care providers, others assisting with my health care and my family, in the event I cannot make decisions for myself.

PART I: APPOINTMENT OF HEALTH CARE AGENT

This is who I want to make health care decisions for me if I am unable to decide or speak for myself (I know I can change my agent or alternate agent at any time and I know I do not have to appoint an agent or an alternate agent)

NOTE: If you appoint an agent, you should discuss this health care directive with your agent and give your agent a copy. If you do not wish to appoint an agent, you may leave Part I blank and go to Part II.

When I am unable to decide or speak for myself, I trust and appoint ___________________ to make health care decisions for me. This person is called my health care agent. Relationship of my health care agent to me: ___________________
Telephone number of my health care agent: _________________________
Address of my health care agent: _________________________

(OPTIONAL) APPOINTMENT OF ALTERNATE HEALTH CARE AGENT: If my health care agent is not reasonably available, I trust and appoint _________________ to be my health care agent instead. Relationship of my alternate health care agent to me: ___________________________ Telephone number of my alternate health care agent: ___________________________ Address of my alternate health care agent: ___________________________

THIS IS WHAT I WANT MY HEALTH CARE AGENT TO BE ABLE TO
DO IF I AM UNABLE TO DECIDE OR SPEAK FOR MYSELF (I know I can change these choices)

My health care agent is automatically given the powers listed below in (A) through (D).
My health care agent must follow my health care instructions in this document or any other instructions I have given to my agent. If I have not given health care instructions, then my agent must act in my best interest. Whenever I am unable to decide or speak for myself, my health care agent has the power to:

(A) Make any health care decision for me. This includes the power to give, refuse, or withdraw consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedures. This includes deciding whether to stop or not start health care that is keeping me or might keep me alive, and deciding about intrusive mental health treatment.

(B) Choose my health care providers.

(C) Choose where I live and receive care and support when those choices relate to my health care needs.

(D) Review my medical records and have the same rights that I would have to give my medical records to other people.

If I DO NOT want my health care agent to have a power listed above in (A) through (D) OR if I want to LIMIT any power in (A) through (D), I MUST say that here:

_______________________________________________________________

My health care agent is NOT automatically given the powers listed below in (1) and (2). If I WANT my agent to have any of the powers in (1) and (2), I must INITIAL the line in front of the power; then my agent WILL HAVE that power.

______ (1) To decide whether to donate any parts of my body, including organs, tissues, and eyes, when I die.

______ (2) To decide what will happen with my body when I die (burial, cremation).

If I want to say anything more about my health care agent's powers or limits on the powers, I can say it here: _______________________________________________________________

PART II: HEALTH CARE INSTRUCTIONS

NOTE: Complete this Part II if you wish to give health care instructions. If you appointed an agent in Part I, completing this Part II is optional but would be very helpful to your agent. However, if you chose not to appoint an agent in Part I, you MUST complete some or all of this Part II if you wish to make a valid health care directive.

These are instructions for my health care when I am unable to decide or speak for myself.
These instructions must be followed (so long as they address my needs).

THESE ARE MY BELIEFS AND VALUES ABOUT MY HEALTH CARE
(I know I can change these choices or leave any of them blank)

I want you to know these things about me to help you make decisions about my health care:

My goals for my health care: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My fears about my health care: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My spiritual or religious beliefs and traditions: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My beliefs about when life would be no longer worth living:
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My thoughts about how my medical condition might affect my family:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

THIS IS WHAT I WANT AND DO NOT WANT FOR MY HEALTH CARE

(I know I can change these choices or leave any of them blank) Many medical treatments may be used to try to improve my medical condition or to prolong my life. Examples include artificial breathing by a machine connected to a tube in the lungs, artificial feeding or fluids through tubes, attempts to start a stopped heart, surgeries, dialysis, antibiotics, and blood transfusions. Most medical treatments can be tried for a while and then stopped if they do not help. I have these views about my health care in these situations: (Note: You can discuss general feelings, specific treatments, or leave any of them blank)

If I had a reasonable chance of recovery, and were temporarily unable to decide or speak for myself, I would want:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If I were dying and unable to decide or speak for myself, I would want:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If I were permanently unconscious and unable to decide or speak for myself, I would want:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If I were completely dependent on others for my care and unable to decide or speak for
myself, I would want: .....

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In all circumstances, my doctors will try to keep me comfortable and reduce my pain. This is how I feel about pain relief if it would affect my alertness or if it could shorten my life:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There are other things that I want or do not want for my health care, if possible:

Who I would like to be my doctor:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Where I would like to live to receive health care:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Where I would like to die and other wishes I have about dying:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My wishes about donating parts of my body when I die:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
My wishes about what happens to my body when I die (cremation, burial):

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Any other things:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PART III: MAKING THE DOCUMENT LEGAL

This document must be signed by me. It also must either be verified by a notary public (Option 1) OR witnessed by two witnesses (Option 2). It must be dated when it is verified or witnessed.I am thinking clearly, I agree with everything that is written in this document, and I have made this document willingly.


___________________________________
My Signature

___________________________________
Date signed:

___________________________________
Date of birth:

___________________________________
Address:


If I cannot sign my name, I can ask someone to sign this document for me.


_____________________________________________________
Signature of the person who I asked to sign this document for me.

________________________________________________________
Printed name of the person who I asked to sign this document for me.


Option 1: Notary Public

In my presence on___________________________________ (date), __________________________________________ (name) acknowledged his/her signature on this document or acknowledged that he/she authorized the person signing this document to sign on his/her behalf. I am not named as a health care agent or alternate health care agent in this document.

___________________________________________
(Signature of Notary)
(Notary Stamp)

Option 2: Two Witnesses

Two witnesses must sign. Only one of the two witnesses can be a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider giving direct care to me on the day I sign this document.

Witness One:
(i) In my presence on _______________________ (date), ________________ (name) acknowledged his/her signature on this document or acknowledged that he/she authorized the person signing this document to sign on his/her behalf.
(ii) I am at least 18 years of age.
(iii) I am not named as a health care agent or an alternate health care agent in this document.
(iv) If I am a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider giving direct care to the person listed above in (A), I must initial this box: [ ]
I certify that the information in (i) through (iv) is true and correct.

______________________________________
(Signature of Witness One)

Address: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Witness Two:
(i) In my presence on ________________________ (date), _________________ (name) acknowledged his/her signature on this document or acknowledged that he/she authorized the person signing this document to sign on his/her behalf.
(ii) I am at least 18 years of age.
(iii) I am not named as a health care agent or an alternate health care agent in this document.
(iv) If I am a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider giving direct care to the person listed above in (A), I must initial this box: [ ]
I certify that the information in (i) through (iv) is true and correct.

________________________________________
(Signature of Witness Two)

Address:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

REMINDER: Keep this document with your personal papers in a safe place (not in a safe deposit box). Give signed copies to your doctors, family, close friends, health care agent, and alternate health care agent. Make sure your doctor is willing to follow your wishes. This document should be part of your medical record at your physician's office and at the hospital, home care agency, hospice, or nursing facility where you receive your care.

Some of this information was taken from Minnesota statute section 145C.16. This should not be considered legal advice, it is provided as a public service.
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