Minnesota Health Care Directives: What are they and how do they work?

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on March 1, 2013

Minnesota Health Care DirectiveFirst things first, what exactly is a health care directive?

In Minnesota, state law (Minnesota Statutes Section 145C.02) says that health care directives are legal documents that exist to let others know about your opinions regarding important health care matters. Health care directives are also important because they are used in much the same way a power of attorney is, to legally appoint a person to act as your agent who is then empowered to make decisions on your behalf should be unable to make them yourself.

Health care directives are essential tools in every estate plan because they ensure that your wishes will be followed. The documents are important because they enable your plans to be implemented when you are not in position to insist upon it. The directive can be used to guide your doctors and loved ones about critical care decisions should you be unable to communicate, thus taking some of pressure off your loved ones in an especially trying time.

Drafting a Minnesota Health Care Directive

When you’re drafting a health care directive, Minnesota Statutes Section 145C.03 says that it’s essential the document be in writing, contain your name, is signed and dated.

To be valid, the document must either be verified by a notary public or have the signatures of two witnesses. Finally, the document must contain the name of the person you are assigning to make health care decision on your behalf or instructions explaining what choices you want your health care provider to make.

Specificity is important here as the directive is only useful if it takes away the guesswork. Laying out your broad goals is a good way to start drawing up the document and can be continued by refining these goals into specific statements about procedures you do or do not want to undergo and instructions for what to do in the case of specific health care emergencies.

It’s important to note that having a health care directive does not cancel your right to give medical direction to doctors or other health care providers when you are fully functional and able to do so. A health care directive only becomes effective when you don’t have the capacity to give, withdraw, or withhold informed consent regarding your health care.

It’s critical that the person you select to act as your agent be someone you trust implicitly and who you believe understands your values and is willing to follow your wishes in any situation that should arise. The person will be required to review the circumstances of your condition, consult with doctors and other health care providers, consider your prognosis and finally apply your wishes as contained in the health care directive.

Choosing a “designated agent” for your Minnesota Health Care Directive

Given the importance of such a document, it’s essential that you discuss your views on health care decisions with not only your designated agent, but also your loved ones.

No document, even the most finely drafted, will be able to anticipate the exact health circumstances that will arise in your future. Your agent may find him or herself forced to make tough choices in ambiguous circumstances. Help make things easier now by creating a Minnesota health care directive and by talking with them about your philosophy on life and death.

An experienced Minnesota estate-planning lawyer can help walk you through the confusing process of drafting and implementing a health care directive. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source:Probate and Planning: A Guide to Planning for the Future,” published at AG.State.MN.US.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

What is a power of attorney and how does it work in Minnesota?


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