Adapted - Idaho Office of Attorney General*
We plan for many important events in life. We plan for retirement, a wedding, vacations, and for a child’s education. Sadly, the health choices that are made at the end of life are seldom planned, and many times they are made for us. Decisions are put off and desires are not expressed because it is difficult to contemplate or discuss death. There are many things to plan for at the end of life. Transfer of property and the well-being of a spouse or child are all issues to be considered and planned for. However, the topic discussed here involves end-of-life health care issues and the importance of living wills and other advance directives.
The principal way to ensure that your desires are fulfilled if you are no longer able to communicate your wishes is through a living will. Idaho law provides for individuals to ensure that their wishes about their health care are carried out in the event they become incapacitated and are not able to speak for themselves. Generally, there are two kinds of advance directives. The first is called a living will, and the second is called a durable power of attorney for health care. During the 2005 Idaho Legislative session, a modification was made to the Natural Death and Medical Consent Act. Consequently, in Idaho, it is now possible to complete one (1) form for both a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. (Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Form.) A living will sets forth your instructions for dealing with life-sustaining medical procedures in the event you are unable to communicate your decision for yourself. A living will directs your family and medical staff about whether to continue, withhold, or withdraw life- sustaining systems, such as tube feeding for hydration (water) and/or nutrition (food), if you are incapable of expressing your wishes yourself because of an incurable and terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.
A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to appoint a person to make all decisions regarding your health care, including choices regarding health care providers and medical treatment, if for any reason you are not able to make them yourself. You should not execute an advance directive without having first thought about end-of-life issues, considered your personal values, and discussed your wishes for care at the end of life with people close to you such as your family, physicians, attorney, and clergy or spiritual leader. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addresse many of the concerns that arise when people complete their advance directives (living will and durable power of attorney for health care). The Idaho POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) offers another opportunity for planning for future health care and should be considered when you complete your living will and durable power of attorney for health care. It is also an advance directive.
All advance directives (living will, durable power of attorney for health care, POST) should be registered in the Idaho Health Care Directive Registry located in the Idaho Office of the Secretary of State. With the wallet card coded for easy use, family and medical personnel will have immediate electronic access to your advance directives in times of medical crisis.
Used with permission from the Idaho Office of Attorney General.
http://www2.state.id.us/ag/living_wills/index.html. Accessed 9-1-2008