If you or a loved one are approaching your “golden years,” there are certain legal documents that should be created and signed as soon as possible. In order for another party to have the authority to discuss your medical treatment with health care providers, you must provide them the legal power to do so. Otherwise, patient confidentiality laws will prevent your loved ones from being able to assist you in making necessary medical decisions if you are unable to act on your own. And remember, these laws extend not only to your doctors, but also to assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Each state has its own unique requirements for the legal documentation that is required to grant medical decision-making authority to another party. The primary document, in Utah is an Advanced Health Care Directive.
Advanced Health Care Directive
A Utah Advanced Health Care Directive (“Directive”) has two components. First is the appointment of an agent for health care decisions. This part of the document appoints another party to make medical decisions if you are no longer able to do so, including the right to admit you to a health care facility and other actions, which you should carefully consider. It can even nominate the person to be your guardian. Your appointed agent can also gain access to your medical records. It is important to provide a copy of your Directive to your appointed agent, your primary physician, your estate attorney (who should help you create it) and any applicable assisted living facility or nursing home.
The second part of the Directive allows you to determine whether or not you want certain life-sustaining medical care in certain events. This includes whether, or for how long you want to remain on life support. You can leave instructions regarding end of life decisions, which removes a hefty burden from your loved ones, or you can let your agent make decisions. If you execute a Directive, it is critical that you provide a copy with your agent and any relevant health care providers.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders
There is another category of health care planning that can be utilized in Utah. If you are the end stage of a debilitating disease, or in hospice care, knowing death is imminent, there is a DNR order you can sign, with the co-signature of a physician, which can stop all care to resuscitate you under your specific circumstances. This must be approached carefully. It is not intended as a substitute for a Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive and should only be used when you are actually at the end of your life. This form should never be used with a health senior who might have an accident or health care incident and could be expected to recover.
We provide careful and thoughtful assistance with our clients in designating health care agents and in deciding the type of end of life care they desire.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.