The importance of a health care power of attorney form and a living will declaration as part of your overall estate plan cannot be overemphasized.
A power of attorney form for health care decisions allows you to name someone to act on your behalf for the purpose of making medical decisions if you are unable to make informed decisions for yourself. The Nevada Legislature has enacted a statutory form entitled “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions” at NRS 162A.860. Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions authorizes the named attorney-in-fact to consent to medical procedures on your behalf if you are unable to give informed consent. Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Decisions, however, does not authorize the named attorney-in-fact to consent to such things as convulsive treatment, psychosurgery, or your commitment or placement in a facility for treatment of mental illness. A court order is needed for these types of medical decisions.
With respect to decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, Nevada’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions sets forth five different statements of desire. If you agree with the statements of desire, then you would initial the statement. The five statements are as follows:
- I desire that my life be prolonged to the greatest extent possible, without regard to my condition, the chances I have for recovery or long-term survival, or the cost of the procedures.
- If I am in a coma which my doctors have reasonably concluded is irreversible, I desire that life-sustaining or prolonging treatments not be used. (Also should utilize provisions of NRS 449.535 to 449.690, inclusive, if this subparagraph is initialed.)
- If I have an incurable or terminal condition or illness and no reasonable hope of long-term recovery or survival, I desire that life-sustaining or prolonging treatments not be used. (Also should utilize provisions of NRS 449.535 to 449.690, inclusive, if this subparagraph is initialed.)
- Withholding or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration may result in death by starvation or dehydration. I want to receive or continue receiving artificial nutrition and hydration by way of the gastrointestinal tract after all other treatment is withheld.
- I do not desire treatment to be provided and/or continued if the burdens of the treatment outweigh the expected benefits. My agent is to consider the relief of suffering, the preservation or restoration of functioning, and the quality as well as the extent of the possible extension of my life.
Admittedly, the language used in the foregoing statements is confusing. Unfortunately, Nevada law mandates that this language be used. It is advisable that you review the statements of desire with your doctor or attorney if you should have any questions.
Additionally, if you agree with the items 2 and 3 of the statements of desire regarding end-of-life decisions, Nevada law encourages the use of a Living Will Declaration.
A Living Will Declaration goes with the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. If the persons you have named as your attorneys-in-fact are unable or unwilling to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf, the Living Will Declaration authorizes your attending physician to make such decisions for you.
If you have any questions or are interested in speaking with me about a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and Living Will Declaration, please feel free to E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org