Health Care Directives
Health Care Directives
A Living Will
Establishing advance directives regarding future health care decisions can ensure that a person’s wishes are met and can also relieve families from having to make difficult decisions at a time of great stress.
A Living Will (also known as an Advanced Health Care Directive) specifies whether you would like to be kept on artificial life support if you are ever permanently unconscious or otherwise dying and unable to speak for yourself. For example, if medical treatment would only prolong your death, you may specify that treatment be halted. Although Living Wills were originally made to address a terminal illness, they now include optional additional instructions that address life-sustaining procedures due to an accident or injury and mental distortion, as well as a terminal condition.
The Kansas statutes provide for a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions (HCDPOA). This is an important legal document. This document gives the person you name as your agent the authority to make any and all health care decisions for you in accordance with your wishes, including your religious and moral beliefs, when you are no longer capable of making them yourself. Because “health care” means any treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnoses, or treat your physical or mental condition, your agent has the power to make a broad range of health care decisions for you. Your agent may consent, refuse to consent, or withdraw consent to medical treatment and may make decisions about withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment. Your agent may not consent to voluntary inpatient mental health services, convulsive treatment, psychosurgery, or abortion. A physician must comply with your agent’s instructions or allow you to be transferred to another physician.
Your agent’s authority begins when your doctor certifies that you lack the competence to make health care decisions.
Your agent is obligated to follow your instructions when making decisions on your behalf. Unless you state otherwise, your agent has the same authority to make decisions about your health care, as you would have had.
It is important that you discuss this document with your physician or other health care provider before you sign it to make sure that you understand the nature and range of decisions that may be made on your behalf. If you do not have a physician, you should talk with someone else who is knowledgeable about these issues and can answer your questions. You do not need a lawyer’s assistance to complete this document, but if there is anything in this document that you do not understand, you should ask a lawyer to explain it to you.
The person you appoint as agent should be someone you know and trust. The person must be 18 years of age or older or a person under 18 years of age who has had the disabilities of minority removed. If you appoint your health or residential care provider (e.g., your physician or an employee of a home health agency, hospital, nursing home or residential care home, other than a relative), that person has to choose between acting as your agent or as your health or residential care provider, the law does not permit a person to do both at the same time.
Even after you have signed this document, you have the right to make health care decisions for yourself as long as you are able to do so and treatment cannot be given to you or stopped over your objection. You have the right to revoke the authority granted to your agent by informing your agent or your health or residential care provider orally or in writing or by your execution of a subsequent medical power of attorney. Unless you state otherwise, your appointment of a spouse dissolves on divorce.
This document may not be changed or modified. If you want to make changes in the document, you must make an entirely new one.
You may wish to designate an alternate agent in the event that your agent is unwilling, unable, or ineligible to act as your agent. An alternate agent you designate has the same authority to make health care decisions for you.
THE FOLLOWING PERSONS MAY NOT ACT AS ONE OF THE WITNESSES:
- The person you have designated as your agent.
- A person entitled to any part of your estate after your death under a will or codicil executed by you or by operation of law.
- Your attending physician.
- An employee of your attending physician.
- An employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct patient care to you or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility.
- A person, who, at the time this power of attorney is executed, has a claim against any part of your estate after your death.
Both documents are in PDF format