Need Assistance with Your Advance Health Care Directive? Our Lawyers in Salt Lake City Can Help!

Having an advance health care directive will provide your family, friends, and health care team with the information they need to carry out your wishes. Additionally, it can help alleviate any confusion or misunderstanding if you find yourself unable to make your wishes known. 

If you are unsure of when to set up your directive or if this is the best option for you, this Tool Kit for Advanced Healthcare Planning by the Utah Commission on Aging, might be a helpful place to start. 

Their tool kit can help you determine who to select as your care agent, as well as your personal priorities and values when it comes to making medical decisions. 

While it is not necessary to embark on a full estate plan to complete your health care directive, we find many of our clients’ prefer the peace of mind in knowing their health and financial plans have been settled.  

We look forward to hearing from you and helping guide you through your estate planning needs. Schedule your free 30 minute consultation today!


What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An advanced healthcare directive, sometimes referred to as a living will, is a key part of any estate plan in Utah. When you create an advanced healthcare directive, you will be able to name an agent as your health care power of attorney. Your agent will be able to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so because of illness or incapacity. An advanced directive also allows you to state your wishes regarding end-of-life healthcare choices.

Some of the provisions within an advanced healthcare directive are called “living will” provisions. These provisions allow you to state your preferences for end-of-life care. You can say whether you would like to prolong your life as long as possible, undergo extraordinary medical measures to keep yourself alive, or whether you like comfort care. Openly discussing your wishes and writing them down can help you and your family significantly during a stressful time. 


How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help You

You can complete an advanced healthcare directive on your own. However, there are several benefits that come with consulting an estate planning lawyer. At Read Law, experienced estate planning lawyers can assist you in preparing your advanced healthcare directive, a durable power of attorney, and other important estate planning documents. We will sit down with you and learn about your financial situation and goals for your estate plan. Our patient and understanding attorneys will be able to answer all of your questions about your preferences that you will state on your advanced healthcare directive. 

We understand that thinking about what will happen to us if we become incapacitated can be challenging. We will help you walk through the process so you feel confident about your advanced healthcare directive. Our law firm offers comprehensive estate planning services, and when you work with our team, you will feel confident that your estate is protected now and in the future. 


Selecting a Health Care Agent in Utah

An advanced healthcare directive has several important functions in a Utah estate plan. Most importantly, your advanced healthcare directive allows you to choose an agent who will be given a healthcare power of attorney. It is crucial that you take time to consider whom you will appoint as your agent. Your agent will be authorized to make decisions for you in the event that you cannot speak for yourself or no longer have the capacity to make health care decisions, as defined by Utah law. If you become incapacitated, your agent will step into your shoes and make decisions for you.

We recommend appointing an alternative healthcare agent to serve as your agent in the event that your primary agent cannot or is unwilling to serve. We also recommend discussing your advanced healthcare directive with the person you intend to choose as your agent. You may learn that they are uncomfortable with making decisions on your behalf. Doing so will give you time to reconsider and choose another agent who is willing to make decisions on your behalf. 


Updating Your Advanced Healthcare Directive

Make sure you keep your advanced healthcare directive updated. It is easy to create an advanced healthcare directive and then forget about it or put it out of your mind. However, we have seen many examples of people who forget to change their agent after a major life change. Suppose you recently got divorced and your ex-spouse is your healthcare agent. In this case, you will need to update your advanced healthcare directive if you no longer want your ex to make important decisions for you. 

If you would like to revoke your advanced healthcare directive or change it under Utah law, you can do so in several different ways. You can write the word “VOID” across your advanced healthcare directive. Or, you can simply burn, tear, or otherwise destroy the document or direct someone else to do so with your authority. 

If you would like to change an advanced healthcare directive you have already made, it is best to create an entirely new advanced healthcare directive and ensure that you destroy all of the copies of your older document. If you are unsure whether you need an updated advanced healthcare directive, one of our estate planning lawyers can review your document and advise you accordingly.


What Authority Does a Healthcare Agent Have?

An advanced healthcare directive grants certain powers to the agent you select. These powers range from choosing your healthcare providers and making basic decisions for you regarding your health care to consenting to participate in organ donation and medical research. Your health care agent will not be able to force health care upon you against your will, even if you are incapacitated. You can also choose whether you would like your agent to have the authority to obtain your medical records while you can still speak for yourself. 

Your healthcare agent will only be able to make decisions about your health care, not financial decisions or any other type of personal decision. You can limit what type of decisions your health care agent will have if you become incapacitated. If you are unsure how to complete your advanced healthcare directive, one of our lawyers can help walk you through the process.


Making a Legally Valid Healthcare Directive

Utah law imposes certain requirements for advanced healthcare directives to be legal. If you would like to make a legally binding advanced healthcare directive, it must be signed in the presence of witnesses who meet specific requirements, such as being over the age of 18 and not being a beneficiary of your trust, will, or life insurance policy. You only need one witness to sign your health care directive and your health care directive does not need to be notarized to be legally valid.


Contact a Utah Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Would you like assistance preparing your Utah advanced healthcare directive? Or, would you like assistance and drafting other essential estate planning documents, including a living trust, last will and testament, or durable power of attorney? If so, the skilled estate planning lawyers at Read Law are here to help. Contact us today to learn about our comprehensive estate planning services and how we can help you prepare for the future.