Utah Advance Health Care Directives


Everyone age 18 and over should sign a health care directive!  Its purpose is to provide information and instructions to your family about what decisions you would want them to make at a time when you are unable to speak for yourself.  It also provides an opportunity to appoint people you trust to speak for you in that circumstance.  You can update it, revoke it, or amend it at any time.  There are many examples of situations where a person was incapacitated without providing that kind of direction to their families, which led to expensive and time consuming litigation over competing ideas about what that person would have wanted.

In 2008, the Utah Legislature enacted a law that created a standard form that everyone could use for this purpose.  It is called the  Utah Advance Health Care Directive, and combines two separate documents that have been known as a "Special Power of Attorney for Health Care," ( or "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care,") and a "Living Will."  The form can be found at here and instructions for completing it can be found here.

The Utah Commission on Aging has also made available a "Tool Kit for Advance Health Care Planning" that I recommend for your use in completing your directive.  Working through the Took Kit and answering all of the questions will help you with two important things:  1) the exercise will cause you to think more thoroughly about these issues so that you can make better decisions, and 2) if you complete it legibly, sign it and provide a copy to your decision makers, it will provide them with valuable information about the decisions you would want them to make.

One of the most important things you can do as you complete your own directive is to communicate with your family about it.  I recommend that you engage in an intentional conversation with your family members - preferable all at once - in which you explain to them what you have done.  Tell them who has been appointed to speak for you regarding your health care decisions, and tell them what decisions you would want them to make.  An open discussion with family-wide participation can go a long way towards avoiding misunderstanding and hard feelings if or when the time comes for these decisions to be made.

You can benefit from having an Advance Directive at any age. You could be in an automobile accident or get sick and be unable to communicate. You might live with a mental or physical illness that leaves you without the ability to make decisions at times. Without an Advance Directive, those making decisions for you may not know what you want. Worse still, your family and friends could argue over the care you should get, or they could disagree about who should make decisions for you. Help your family and friends to help you: name an agent and tell your agent and family about your health care wishes.

If you would like to talk about health care directives, durable powers of attorney, and other planning tools, contact me today or click here to schedule a telephone appointment.