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What Is A Living Will / Health Care Directive?

When You Go To A Minnesota Hospital

When you are taken to a hospital in Minnesota from an accident or illness, it may be too late to prepare the documents to assure you the care you want or to provide access to your medical information for your loved ones. This could create a major issue when your family is faced with making a decision on the type of treatment you receive.

The Terri Schiavo Case in Florida

The Terri Schiavo case in Florida several years ago provides a graphic example of why every adult should have a health care directive.

In that case, a 27 year-old woman went into the hospital for a simple medical procedure but fell into a coma and she lived for a number of years.

She had no health care directive so her family could not help decide her medical treatment. The case went all through the Florida courts as well as the Congress, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court. It certainly was a very sad affair.

How Does A Health Care Directive Work?

A Health Care Directive (HCD) under Minnesota law goes by many names... sometimes it is called a "Living Will" or an Advance Care Declaration or Health Care Power of Attorney. They all mean the same thing.

A HCD identifies who you would want to make your medical treatment decisions if you're not able to make those choices on your own. The choice of the health care agent or health care proxy is one you should carefully consider. It should be someone you trust, who is sensitive to your wishes regarding health care but, at the same time, a person who can make a tough decision on your behalf if it comes to that.

The Health Care Directive spells out what medical procedures and medications you would wantand which ones you do not want. However, with the constant improvements in medicine, some procedures that were once may have been painful or intrusive may be more tolerable at the time your Health Care Agent must make a decision.

A HCD can also direct what you want to be done with your body after death including whether or not you want cremation or organ donation. You can also designate funeral arrangements and burial location.

Having a HCD is very important for you and your entire family. Talk to your attorney or your doctor about one soon.

The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. 

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