Adults have the right to make decisions about their medical care. This includes the right to create Advance Directives. An Advanced Directive is a statement about your health care choices and can include appointing someone to make health care choices for you if you become unable to make decisions about your own medical treatment.
The two most common forms of Advance Directives are:
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Living Will is a document that states treatment you do or don’t want when you are terminally ill and unable to make your own decisions. A living will is authoritative and cannot be overridden by your family member’s wishes. This is allows you to make your own decisions about your medical care, even if your family doesn’t agree with your decisions for your own health care.
A Living Will can direct a doctor to discontinue medical treatment, even if that treatment will result in death. Many people don’t wish to have live sustaining treatment if they were to lapse into a persistent vegetative state or be terminally ill. A terminal condition is often defined as an incurable or irreversible condition that, without life sustaining treatment, will result in death within a relatively short period of time, or a comatose state from which there will be no recovery, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
Both Nebraska and Iowa law states that life insurance benefits will not be affected by making a living. Further, making a living will is not equivalent with suicide, nor is a doctor that abides by the terms of a living will liable for homicide.
A Living Will can also contain a clause stating your wishes regarding resuscitation. Some people do not wish to be resuscitated. If that is your wish, a Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) clause can be put in your Living Will to make this wish known to your doctors and other medical care providers.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Power of Attorney for Health Care (or Medical Power of Attorney) is a limited power of attorney created for the purpose of granting someone the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf. This person only makes medical decisions for you if you are not able to make decisions for yourself.
The person you appoint as your Power of Attorney for Health Care can do everything that you would be able to do. However, the agent must follow your wishes as set forth in your Power of Attorney for Health Care.
When you create a Durable Power of Attorney, you have to choose someone to act as your agent. This is the person who will make your health care decisions for you. This should be someone you know and trust who you believe will be able to speak on your behalf regarding your health care decisions. You also need to consider where the person lives and whether that person will be present to make health care decisions for you when needed. People often appoint a family member or close friend.
You should discuss you health care with your agent. Your agent should be aware of your desires for your health care. You should also consider appointing a second, or even third, agent in the event that your first choice is unavailable or unwilling to make decisions for you.
If you change your mind after creating a Power of Attorney for Health Care, you can modify or revoke it at anytime.
Contact Stephanie Flynn Law or call (402) 325-8469 if you want to create Advance Directives to ensure that your health care wishes are followed in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.