Minnesota Law on Living Wills

by Heather Frances J.D. Google
A health care directive helps your doctors understand what types of care you want.

A health care directive helps your doctors understand what types of care you want.

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Prior to August 1, 1998, Minnesota law provided for several types of health directives, including living wills, durable health care powers of attorney and mental health declarations. Under the current law, you can create a document called a “health care directive” to leave healthcare instructions, appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you, or both. The law changed so people can use one form for all their health care instructions. Forms created before August 1998 are still legal if they followed the law in effect when written.

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Health Care Directives

In Minnesota, your health care directive can give instructions to your health care providers, family members and health care agent. It can include special instructions for medical procedures during pregnancy, artificially-administered nutrition and funeral preferences. You may also choose to include a power of attorney within your health care directive to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you no longer have the capacity to do so. For example, your health care directive may state you do not wish to be on artificial respiration; it may also appoint your friend to make other healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Legal Requirements

Minnesota law provides a form for a health care directive, but you do not have to follow that form for you directive to be valid. To be valid, it must be in writing and dated. You must also sign it or have someone sign it for you at your direction. It also must be notarized or signed by at least one qualified witness. Neither the notary nor witness can be a healthcare provider or a person you appointed in your health care power of attorney. This means you should not have your spouse witness or notarize your health care directive if you named your spouse as your health care agent.

Reciprocity

If you do not live in Minnesota but are receiving medical treatment there, the living will, health care power of attorney, or health care directive you have from your home state should be honored by Minnesota physicians as long as it meets the requirements of your home state or Minnesota’s requirements. For example, if your home state does not require your living will to be notarized or witnessed, Minnesota will still honor your living will even though it does not meet Minnesota’s requirements.

Revocation

You can revoke your Minnesota health care directive at any time by destroying the document, writing a statement that you wish to revoke it, verbally stating in front of two witnesses that you wish to revoke it, or by making a new health care directive. If you make a new health care directive, you may wish to destroy the old directive to avoid confusion even though the law doesn’t require you to do so. If you named your spouse as your health care agent under a health care directive but then get divorced, that designation is automatically revoked unless your health care directive specifically states that it continues after your divorce. So, if you still wish to have your ex-spouse as your health care agent after your divorce, you may need to make a new health care directive.