Utah Advance Health Care Directive, Why do I Need One?


To illustrate the importance of an Advance Health Care Directive, imagine to yourself that you are going in for a medical procedure, such as giving birth to a baby, kidney stone blasting, having your appendix removed, having your knee or hip replaced or any number of other “routine” and not so routine medical procedures that people receive every day. Now, imagine that you have a severe reaction to the anesthesia or another severe complication arises, which makes you unable to communicate with those around you. Who is going to make the decisions with respect to your treatment? If things progress to the point where you are on life support, how long will they keep your plugged into the machines? Under what circumstances would you like them to not continue sustaining your life? These are importance questions that none of us like to think about, but if we find ourselves in the above situation, it is too late to figure out the answers and communicate our wishes with those around us. This is why it is important to have an Advance Health Care Directive.

What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

In Utah, there is a statutory Advance Health Care Directive Form, which consolidates two different legal documents, namely, the Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney to make it easier for both the individuals signing it and health care providers, who are responsible for following it. An Advance Health Care Directive enables you to write down your wishes with respect to your Health Care and appoint an agent to enforce those wishes, in the event you are unable to do so yourself. While you can probably find a copy of the Statutory Form online and fill it out yourself, you may have questions, which would be best answered by an attorney. Also, as the form is a rigid statutory form, which may not perfectly fit with your wishes, an attorney can make any necessary modifications to the form and still maintain its enforceability.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a document where you explain your desires with respect to your medical care, such as under what circumstances you want your life to be prolonged through the use of artificial medical intervention, in case you are unable to communicate your wishes at a later date. This is not the appropriate document to state that you do not want to be resuscitated under any circumstances, that is a standalone document (the “DNR”).

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

While a General Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to take care of your personal affairs in the event you are unable to do so yourself, a Health Care Power of Attorney appoints someone to make decisions with respect to your Health Care in the event you are unable to do so yourself.

How Can I Ensure My Wishes Are Followed?

Your health care provider is the person who will ensure that your Advance Health Care is followed. If your health care provider does not have a copy of your Advance Health Care Directive, there is no worth in having it signed. You should ensure that you have a copy, your doctor and your hospital each have a copy and whoever you appoint as your agent has a copy. This will allow your health care provider to know your wishes in the event of complications like those I had you imagine above.

If, on the other hand, you are in some type of accident, most people do not carry a copy of their Advance Health Care Directive with them at all times, especially when they are involved in an accident, but ensuring your Agent has a copy and ensuring that they are listed as an emergency contact in your wallet or phone will be helpful to ensure that the emergency staff is made aware of your wishes and can follow them. You may also want other family members to have a copy, so they can bring the copy with them if they are made aware of your accident.

I also recommend having some electronic means of accessing your Advance Health Care Directive, there are some smart phone apps that allow you to store documents, such as an Advance Health Care Directive, on your smartphone. There is also a website, which I use and recommend to my clients for organization of their end-of-life planning called Everplans, which enables a person to keep all of their documents organized in a place where it is easy others to whom you give access to see all of the information you wish to share with them, it is also an excellent backup, in the event the originals are destroyed somehow.

The post Utah Advance Health Care Directive, Why do I Need One? appeared first on Gibson Law Firm.

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