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ELDER LAW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS



LIVING WILLS/HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
QUESTION: What is a Living Will?

ANSWER: In very general terms, a Living Will is a document that expresses what kind of medical care you want and don’t want if your condition is “terminal” and you are unable to express your wishes at the time a medical decision needs to be made. That document can also name a person who can make those decisions for you.

QUESTION: Does Minnesota law recognize Living Wills?

ANSWER: Minnesota law continues to recognize Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care that were properly executed before August 1, 1998. A new law took effect on August 1, 1998 that no longer allows you to create either type of document, but instead allows you to create a “Health Care Directive.”

QUESTION: What subjects can be covered in a Health Care Directive?

ANSWER: You can include anything you want in the Health Care Directive. Most people want to appoint one or more health care agents. You can give the agent any power and authority you wish. For example, you can give your agent the power to:
  • Gain access to your medical records
  • Employ and Discharge Health care personnel
  • Authorize or withhold consent to medical treatment
  • Protect your right of privacy
  • Authorize relief from pain
  • Authorize medical personnel to release information to your agent
  • Make decisions relative to instituting or continuing life support measures
  • Decide in what facility you will live
  • Provide for your treatment, care and companionship
  • Make advance funeral arrangements
  • Make anatomical gifts (organ and tissue donations) .

    QUESTION: That sounds complicated. What other option do I have?

    ANSWER: Most attorneys who work in this area of the law can assist you in preparing a Health Care Directive that is tailored to your specific needs and interests. Also, suggested forms are available through various sources. The legislature provided a suggested form in the law that created the Health Care Directive (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 145C). Health care providers also often have suggested forms. These suggested forms are sometimes not very user friendly since, by their nature, they need to be somewhat general to meet the needs and interests of a wide variety of people To do this, they often require you to insert information into designated blanks. Completing such a form can be confusing and difficult without receiving guidance.

    For answers to frequently asked questions in other areas of law, select:
    Estate Planning
    Real Estate
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    Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is not intended to provide specific legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.