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Health Care Power of Attorney:
The Nevada Statutes provide a standard Health Care Power of Attorney which:
1) Designates who should make health care decisions for you if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make your own health care decision, and
2) Allows you to say in advance what life extending measures you want or don't want at the end of your life.
The statutory form asks five basic questions, along the line of: If you are terminally ill do you want all available treatment no matter how hopeless your situation is?
Unfortunately, these three forms were slapped together by a legislative committee without much talent for clear writing. For example, these forms talk about "post-mortem health care decisions" and sometimes involve understanding double negatives.
A Las Vegas attorney I think highly of, Layne Rushforth, has re-written these forms so that they are easier to understand and has expanded upon them, and in addition incorporated into one form other issues such as organ donations and body disposal instructions. He has copyrighted and posted his document on his website where you can read it at: http://rushforth.net/pdf/hcpa.pdf. Mr. Rushforth has given me permission to use his form and I have it on my computer and will be happy to discuss it with you. As a lawyer I think his form is far superior to the three forms found in the Nevada statutes. The only reason I can think of to use the exact Nevada statutory form is that the statute says, "The form of a power of attorney for health care must be substantially" like the form set forth in the statute. As lawyers Mr. Rushforth and I know that his form is substantially as set forth in the statute. However, a harried doctor who is afraid of getting sued for withholding care isn't in the business of making legal judgments. Therefore, by not using the exact statutory forms there is the potential for a legal dispute. So, if I write a will or trust for you and you want to execute a health care power of attorney we can use either the statutory forms, or the Rushforth form.
However, the five basic questions may very well be inadequate to guide the person you choose to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. The Rushforth form asks these basic questions along with additional logical follow-up questions. But it is simply impossible to anticipate all possible medical choices that arise. You should have an in depth discussion with the people you appoint to make health care decisions for you in the event you can't make these decisions yourself. For example, one daughter asked her elderly father who was undergoing brain surgery what was the mimumum quality of life he would want before discontinuing treatment. Her father,a retired professor, replied that as long as he could eat chocolate ice cream and watch football games on tv he would like to continue living. The daughter was surprised that her father would consider such a minimal quality of life worth living. But, this turned out to be a good guideline for the daughter. This way, the daughter had a fairly objective guideline during the 12 years after the surgery that her father lived. Without this guideline, she might have felt bad about making choices to keep her father alive when, in the daughter's view, his quality of life was badly compromised, or she might have felt guilty about not requesting treatment that would have allowed her father to continue living at this reduced level.
The statutory form and the Rushforth form have blanks so that in theory, if you wanted, you could express your wish that as long as you can eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on tv you would like to be kept alive. However, it is probably best to have a long conversation with the people (such as your spouse and your children) you name on health care power of attorney form discussing under what conditions you would want to continue living. In addition, as the years go by after executing your health care power of attorney it is a good idea to update those conversations with the people you name as your health care powers of attorneys as your views may change over time.
As lawyers we often add special instructions to the Health Care Power of Attorney. For example, in one case a married retired military officer with terminal cancer came to see us to have a trust created to avoid probate. His monthly pension was large but would end upon his death. At his request we drafted his health care power of attorney to keep him alive as long as he was not in pain so that his wife could benefit from his pension for as long as possible.
In another case a young healthy woman was basically in agreement that if her condition were medically hopeless efforts should not be made to keep her alive. However, she specified that no "pull the plug" decision could be made until two weeks had after she was diagnosed as not having a chance of recovery. She was worried about a rushed doctor making a fatal mistake in her case.
When you hire us as your attorneys to write a will or trust we include health care powers of attorney without additional charge.
Reed & Mansfield
6655 W. Sahara Ave., Suite B-200
Las Vegas, NV 89146
regular business hours: 9am-5pm (Pacific Coast time) M-F
most days: We will also take your call between
7am-9pm including weekends and holidays
Web Pages and Informational Text (c) Copywright 2010, 2011, Jonathan C. Reed