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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 & Accessing It

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?

The statutory form is found at N.R.S. 162A.860. There is no need to pay to a private company to download it. You can see the form for free by going to N.R.S 162A and clicking on 860. This form also is found at N.R.S. 449. 610 and at N.R.S. 613.

Filling Out The Form & Important Conversations

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 minimum 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 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.

Special Instructions

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. Contact us today.

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