How do you let your doctors know in advance what kind of medical care you would want if you can’t speak for yourself? An Advance Healthcare Directive lays out who you want to speak for you and what kind of treatments you want in the event you are incapacitated. In this way, you are prepared before health care decisions need to be made.

An Advance Healthcare Directive names an “agent” you trust to speak for you when medical decisions must be made. In Minnesota, to make an Advance Healthcare Directive you must: (a) put it in writing; (b) date it; (c) state your name; (d) sign it; and (e) have your signature notarized or witnessed by two witnesses. You can only make an Advanced Healthcare Directive when you are capable of making your own medical decisions.

Usually, a health care agent will make decisions for you only after your attending physician determines you lack the ability to make them yourself. But, if you wish, you can state in in your Advance Healthcare Directive that you want the agent to begin making decisions immediately.

Sometimes, treatment decisions are hard to make and it truly helps if your agent knows what you want. Your Advance Healthcare Directive can state these wishes. You can say that you want to have your life continued as long as possible, or you can say that you don’t want treatments to continue your life. You also can express your wishes about the use of pain relief medications or any other type of medical treatment. In fact, here in Southeastern Minnesota Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center have forms to help get you started.

You are encouraged to discuss your wishes with your family members and/or friends. The easiest method is to write them down and let everyone know you have done so.

What happens if you change your mind? You can alter or cancel your Advance Healthcare Directive at any time. You should destroy a Directive you no longer want to use and re-execute a new Advance Healthcare Directive. You should also communicate this to your agents.

Don’t lose control of important decisions when you’re seriously ill. Call the attorneys at Rochford Langins Jarstad and we’ll go over your options and design a document that reflects your exact wishes.