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An examination of health care directives in Minnesota – II

A few weeks back, our blog began discussing how Minnesota law permits those who feel very strongly about the type of medical care that should be administered in the event of their mental and/or physical incapacity to execute a legally binding document known as a health care directive.

To recap, a health care directive accomplishes the following:

  • Allows a person to establish their exact wishes concerning the medical care they wish to receive should they become unable to communicate with health care providers.
  • Appoint an agent to make decisions on their behalf should they become unable to communicate with health care providers.

All this, of course, begs the question as to what exactly a person can put in their health care directive. The simple answer is that they may be as specific or as general as they like.

For instance, a health care directive could address some of the following:

  • The values and goals you have concerning medical care.
  • The type of medical care you either do or don’t want to receive.
  • The location where you want to receive medical care.
  • The instructions you have regarding organ donation, as well as artificial hydration, nutrition and respiration.

The next logical question then becomes whether there is anything state law prohibits concerning health care directives.

As it turns out, there are certain limits that must be followed in health care directives, including:

  • The named agent cannot be younger than 18.
  • The medical care requested cannot be outside what is considered to be reasonable medical practice.
  • The named agent cannot be the person’s health care provider unless the directive outlines specific reasons for making this choice or the health care provider is a family member.
  • The directive cannot seek assisted suicide.

We will continue to explore this topic in future posts …

If you have questions about executing a health care directive or any other element of the estate planning process, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer your questions and outline your rights.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, “Questions and answers about health care directives,” Accessed Oct. 27, 2014

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