Health Care Directive
September 18, 2013
n Minnesota, a health care directive is a document that contains two parts: a traditional “living will” and a designation of a Health Care Agent. A “living will” is a legal document that allows you to make known your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatment and to authorize an individual, such as your spouse or child, to make medical decisions on your behalf, within the dictates stated in the document, in the event you are unable to do so. In addition to incorporating the traditional aspects of a living will, a health care directive allows you to appoint an authorized agent under HIPAA, the federal code which sets national security standards relating to protected health information. This designation permits the agent to both access and re-disclose your health care records for purposes such as making health care decisions, and discussing information relating to your medical care and treatment with your family members.
If you have not executed a health care directive prior to your incapacity, it may become necessary for a Court to appoint a Guardian for you to make your medical decisions and access necessary medical records on your behalf. A guardianship proceeding can be a lengthy and expensive process that may require ongoing Court supervision. Often, individuals who have executed health care directives in Minnesota can avoid the need for a Guardian.
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