Overview of Life Care Documents
The purpose of Life Care Documents is to express your wishes, whatever they may be, and to receive your desired treatment in the event that you can no longer communicate. None of this information is a recommendation but is rather urges you to think about these decisions, communicate them with your loved ones, and prepare the appropriate legal documents for your circumstance. In the hopes that expressing your wishes clearly to your loved ones and in these documents in order for those close to you to evade complications of making decisions during tough times.
The information provided is general information and should not be considered legal recommendations or advice. If you are looking for assistance with a legal situation—preparing a will or power of attorney—please contact an attorney that specializes in estate planning or probate.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Durable General Power of Attorney sometimes referred to as a Financial Power of Attorney (POA), is a legal document that allows you to select a person, named an “agent”. The agent will make financial decisions in the case that you can no longer make them for yourself. In some events, the document has limited usefulness with banks and third parties. The Social Security Administration does not honor a POA of any type.
A Living Will is a statement in writing which expresses your wishes concerning medical treatment that could delay death from a terminal condition. Additionally, it pertains to situations of continuous vegetative state or permanent coma. A Living Will communicates your wishes for you in the situation in which you were no longer able to communicate. It gives guidance and direction to those close to you but is not applied with the extensiveness of a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney.
A Prehospital medical care directive is also known as a Do Not Resuscitate or DNR form
The Attorney General’s Office is just one of several sources from which to obtain forms and information on life care planning and advance directives. The forms made available by the Attorney General’s Office are free of charge and comply with Arizona law. These forms and information can be found on the Attorney General’s website, www.azag.gov. However, please note that advance directives do not require any particular form, and information and forms are also available from medical, religious, aging assistance, and legal organizations.
Yes, but if you sign both you must attach a copy of your Living Will to the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney.
Health care providers (for example, doctors and nurses) will first try to find out if you appointed an agent pursuant to a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney. It is also possible that a court will appoint a guardian to act as your surrogate. If you did not leave a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and there is no court-appointed guardian, the health care providers will contact the following people, in this order, who will have the authority to make health care decisions for you (following the your wishes, if known). These people are called “surrogates.”
- Your spouse, unless you and your spouse are legally separated.
- Your adult child. If there is more than one adult child, the health care providers will seek the consent of a
majority of the children who are available for consultation.
- Your parent.
- Your domestic partner if no other person has assumed any financial responsibility for you.
- Your brother or sister.
- Your close friend.
If none of the above persons can be located, health care providers may make decisions on your behalf with the input of an ethics committee or a second physician. Again, only agents and guardians may make the decision to withdraw the artificial administration of food or fluid once it has begun. A surrogate decision-maker may not make such a decision under Arizona law.
If you are healthy and strong, you may not wish to complete a DNR. You can express your wishes about how you wish to be cared for should you become seriously ill without completing a DNR. DNRs are most appropriate for people who would probably not do well with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) because they are very sick, terminally ill or otherwise extremely weak. In any case, you will need to discuss the DNR with your doctor, who will also need to sign the form.
No. You do not have to have a lawyer’s help to fill out these documents, but you may wish to consult with a lawyer if you have questions. If you do not know an attorney in your area, the State Bar of Arizona provides information on attorney referral services for persons of varying income levels.
Yes. The Durable Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will and Durable Mental Health Care Power of Attorney must be signed by EITHER a witness OR a notary. Please note that the witness must be at least 18, cannot be family
(related by blood, adoption or marriage), cannot be in your will to receive part of your estate, cannot be appointed as your representative, and cannot be a health caregiver. A witness CAN be a neighbor, a friend, or an acquaintance who is an adult, but a witness cannot be provided for in your will and cannot not be caring for you or representing you.