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Omaha Medical Directives Attorneys

What You Need to Know About Medical Directives

A medical directive is another useful instrument for an estate plan that gives directions for when you are in a critical health condition. Rather than giving someone else the permission to make your decisions, you provide instructions with a legal document that goes directly to your doctors on how you wish to be treated.

In our state, this is also known as a Nebraska Declaration. These are documents created pursuant to the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act. It only comes into play when you are suffering from a terminal illness and are in a vegetative state with no chance of recovery in the absence of life-sustaining treatment.

When Do I Need a Medical Directive?

Medical directives often come into mind for older individuals who are worrying about how they will be cared for near the end of their lives. They allow an individual to have a voice in their medical care and treatment when they are unable to properly communicate it themselves. Medical directives can be useful for individuals who:

  • Are worried that their health will decline in the later stages of their life
  • Are suffering from a debilitating illness
  • Have a life-threatening illness that can impact their ability to explain their medical wishes to their doctors or healthcare providers

While medical directives are often discussed with older individuals, any individual who is 18-years of age or older can prepare one.

Types of Medical Directives in Nebraska

In Nebraska, medical directives can take the following forms:

  • Living Wills
  • Medical Powers of Attorney
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order

Living wills and medical powers of attorney are often planned in conjunction with each other, as they often overlap. Generally speaking, living wills provide the instructions on how you should be cared for and powers of attorney names the individual who will ensure your will is carried out. Both can be overseen by an estate planning attorney, however DRN orders are best discussed with your healthcare provider.

Medical Care and Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney, broadly speaking, refers to the legal powers given to an individual to manage your finances or personal care on your behalf. When planning your medical directive, you can grant an individual the right to oversee and enforce your medical directive through the powers of attorney. This is referred to as healthcare powers of attorney, and they allow an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to, such as when you are in a vegetative state.

Medical powers of attorney can be given to any individual you trust to properly oversee your medical care, including a family member, a friend, or a legal advisor. This individual will act as your agent or representative. You may also name a successor agent who will be granted powers of attorney if your first choice is unable to represent you, either because they are incapacitated, dead, or refuse the powers of attorney.

Healthcare providers such as doctors or other employees at a hospital or insurance company cannot be granted powers of attorney. In rare cases, individuals who have power of attorney of up to 10 people cannot add on another. When choosing an agent, it is important to select an individual who can fulfill your desires to the letter.

Within the state of Nebraska, medical powers of attorney are limited to the following scenario:

  • You are in a persistent vegetative state or suffering from a life-threatening condition or illness; AND
  • Your agent can provide clear evidence – your medical directive or DNR, for example – stating your request for or denial of life-saving treatment, such as assistance with breathing or eating and drinking.

While there are limitations on medical powers of attorney in Nebraska, Nebraska courts will honor any medical directive prepared in another state if you moved here afterwards.

Assistance with Planning Your Estate

If you need legal advice in planning your estate, please contact an Omaha estate planning lawyer at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. by calling (402) 505-8234.

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