When you consider estate planning, you may think only of wills and trusts. It is important that you do not overlook preparing a healthcare directive and include it in your overall estate plan. A healthcare directive names an individual you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself due to illness, disability or aging cognitive problems. It also allows you to decide in advance how you want your health care administered and ensures that decisions are made according to your wishes.
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In many states, two documents are needed: 1) A durable power of attorney for health care, which names a trusted person to make decisions concerning your health care; and, 2) a living will, which establishes the treatment you want to be provided as well as measures you do not want to be taken in the event you have a life-threatening condition and cannot make decisions for yourself. In Utah, one document takes the place of two and is called an Advance Health Care Directive. A Salt Lake estate planning attorney can assist you to make sure your directive complies with the legal requirements.
An Advance Health Care Directive
Under Utah law, in your Advance Health Care Directive, you name a person, called your agent, to make all health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself. Your agent should be someone you trust completely and unconditionally and who you can depend on to be available to make those decisions for you when you lack the capacity to make them for yourself. You want someone who will carry out your wishes as you have stated them even if they are not what the agent feels should be done.
Your agent does not need to live in Utah, but needs to be willing to come to your bedside if health care decisions on your behalf need to be made. The only people you cannot name as your agent is your health care provider or anyone involved in the operation or employ of a health care facility where you are receiving care. Exceptions are made for blood relatives or for those who are related to you by marriage or adoption.
If you do not have an Advance Directive, your healthcare decisions will be made by family members, doctors or even the court. These people may make decisions based on their best interest, not on your wishes and desires.
Call Law Office of Penniann J. Schumann PLLC
Attorney Schumann has 20 years of experience in estate planning and will give you the individual attention you need to assist you in preparing your sensitive Advance Health Care Directive.
Salt Lake Estate Planing Attorney
Sources: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/utah-living-will-health-care-power-of-attorney-31725.html, http://leaving-well.org/upload/Utah_Advance_Directive_2009.pdf