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When Do I Need to Update My Health Care Directive?

In Minnesota if you become temporarily or permanently unable to make your own health care decisions there is no one with the legal authority to make health care decisions for you after you turn eighteen. For that reason, all adults need a health care directive.

But once you have a Health Care Directive how often does it need to be updated?

Technically, a validly executed Health Care Directive is good until a person’s death unless it is revoked. But, practically, a Health Care Directive should be reviewed and updated periodically to ensure that it still accurately expresses your wishes.

The extent of the content you include in a Health Care Directive should be revisited as you age, when your health changes significantly, when a significant amount of time has passed, or if your spiritual, personal, or cultural values change.

When you are young and healthy, a Health Care Directive should name an agent, and indicate your general preferences for treatment in the case of a life-shattering accident.

If you develop a chronic disease or condition, you should update your Health Care Directive after a discussion with your physician about your prognosis. And if you are diagnosed with a terminal disease or condition, you should review your Health Care Directive to ensure that the existing provisions still reflect your wishes and to make sure you have included personal, spiritual and cultural information and preferences regarding the end of life.

It is also a good idea to update your Health Care Directive frequently because some doctors may be reluctant to follow provisions to withhold or withdraw care if the Health Care Directive has not been updated for a long period of time.

Contact Attorney Heidi Van De Berg, or any of the other estate planning attorneys at Gries Lenhardt Allen P.L.L.P., to discuss whether you should update your Health Care Directive.