Peter and Carolyn M. want to update their estate plans. It has been 20 years and all their documents are outdated. They also each need to prepare a health care directive. When it came time to name health care agents, they were unsure of who was eligible to serve.
What is a Health Care Directive?
It’s a legal document that is commonly part of an estate plan. As the name states, it relates to health care decisions. A health care directive can include instructions from you to your future medical providers, but may also be called, or include, a health care power of attorney.
Who Should I Look for in an Agent?
You are not required to name any particular person as your agent. Most married couples name each other as agent, along with a successor. However, that is not a requirement. You should look for the following when considering who to name as your agent:
- The Right Age. According to Minnesota law, your health care agent is “an individual age 18 or older who is appointed by a principal in a health care power of attorney to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal.”
- Does the Right Thing. Your agent needs to be someone who will “act in good faith.” Your agent should follow the wishes you have set out in your health care directive and act in your best interests at all times.
- On the Spot. You need an agent who is willing to act on your behalf on an as needed basis.
Some people are not eligible to serve as your agent unless they are related to you by blood, marriage, registered domestic partnership, or adoption. So, do not appoint:
- Health care providers caring for you on the day the health directive was signed or the date the agent needs to make decisions for you; or
- Employees of health care providers caring for you on the day the health directive was signed or the date the agent needs to make decisions for you.
This restriction can be bypassed. You can include specific language in your health care directive allowing the people noted above to serve as agent.
Make a Health Care Directive Part of Your Plan.
The attorneys at Virtus Law can discuss your options while helping you develop a complete estate plan. Contact Virtus Law at 612.888.1000 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our main office is in Minneapolis, with other offices located in Maplewood, Cambridge, Edina, Mendota Heights, and Red Wing.