A Health Care Directive is a written document that informs others (e.g. physicians and family members) about your wishes for your health care and names someone to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to express your wishes yourself. Health Care Directives are also commonly called living wills and advance directives.
Creating a written plan in advance keeps you in control when it comes time to make decisions about your medical treatment, even when you are no longer capable of making those decisions. It also makes it much easier on your family and friends. When your family is left guessing as to what you would have wanted, it can lead to uncertainty, guilt and arguments. By making your wishes known in advance, you are making it easier on those who will have to make decisions for you, as well as your loved ones as they will know that the decisions being made are consistent with your wishes.
A good health care directive has two parts, each of which serves different purposes. The first part is a power of attorney. This gives whoever you name, the legal authority to access your medical records and medical information and authorizes them to make decisions for you. The second part is a living will. This tells your family and medical personnel which treatments you want to receive and those which you do not.
To learn more about health care directives in Minnesota, click here.