Why Should I Execute Advance Health Care Directives?
If you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself due to disability, advanced years, or the many diseases and conditions that accompany age, do you know what type of medical care you will receive? Do you know who will make decisions for you and who will speak with your medical care providers on your behalf? What if your spouse or closest family member is not available because of death or their own disability? Who then will make those critical decisions for you? Do you want to avoid conflicts similar to the ones that surrounded Terry Schaivo, the young Florida woman whose family members battled for years in the court system over whether she should be allowed to live or die?
This is why every individual, young or old, married or single, should have Advance Health Care Directives. Also known as a "living will" and "medical power of attorney," advance directives allow you to determine, prior to incapacity, who will make health care decisions for you or what kinds of life sustaining procedures should be administered or witheld, and under what circumstances.
What Does Utah Law Say About Advance Directives?
In January of 2008, a new law in Utah entitled the "Advance Health Care Directive Act" ("UAHCDA") replaced the somewhat less useful "Personal Choice and Living Will Act." The purposes of both of these acts was to make it easier for individuals to control the decision-making process related to their health care if they ever became unable to make such decisions for themselves due to incapacity.
The result was a number of real improvements some of which include:
- Reference to federal HIPAA law to ensure that medical information can be accessed by your health care agent when you cannot do so yourself.
- The ability to give effect to oral directives when that is all a family has to go by.
- A consolidation of three separate forms to a single form with four parts.
- Less stringent document execution requirements (fewer witnesses and notary requirements).
- Ability to grant a broader scope of powers to an appointed agent.
- A broader scope of medical treatments that may be withdrawn if desired.
The above items are only a sample of the improvements made by this new law. Overall, the effect has been to make it easier for individuals to control their own health care decisions. Nevertheless, there is a significant amount of thought required on the part of every individual in order to maximize the benefits that are available through the UAHCDA. A discussion of these issues with your attorney, your physician and most importantly, your family, are key to making this wonderful new planning opportunity available to you and your loved ones.
At Platt Law, P.C., we believe that no estate plan is complete without validly executed Advance Directives. For more information about this and other critical planning devices, contact us to scheudle a consultation.
From within Utah County and Salt Lake County, our law firm represents estate planning and elder law clients from Alpine, Highland, Lehi, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Sandy, Draper, Herriman, South Jordan, Pleasant Grove, Salt Lake City, Lindon, Provo, Orem, Spanish Fork, Payson, Santaquin, and Springville. The Utah Law Firm of Platt Law, P.C. focuses on Utah estate planning, wills, trusts, estates, probate administration, asset protection, Medical Assistance planning, Medicaid planning & eligibility, Veterans Benefits planning, VA Aid and Attendance planning, elder law, business succession planning, family limited partnerships, real estate and transactional law. With years of experience, attorney RobRoy Platt is an experienced estate planning attorney, trust attorney, probate attorney, asset protection attorney, Medicaid attorney, Veterans Benfits attorney, and elder law attorney. Melissa Platt is an experienced business succession attorney, trust attorney, estate planning attorney, and real estate attorney.