Living Wills And Their Suggested Form

Living wills in Minnesota can be tricky. For better or worse, there is a suggested form. Under Minnesota statute 145B.04, there is a standard form that is supposed to help people express their wishes when or if they become terminally ill. Unfortunately, the statute requires strict compliance that often creates a host of other issues.

Take a hard look at the statute for living wills. Minnesota’s standard form creates lots of lines and spaces. When filled out incorrectly, these lines and spaces cause problems for families and doctors.

The biggest risk for anybody using the suggested form is the risk of contradiction. In other words, filling out the suggested form may contradict other significant documents like a health care directive, an organ donation card, or even worse, a power of attorney designation.

On the other hand, when a living will is drafted alongside other life planning documents, living wills can answer lots of significant questions.

Pros and Cons for Living Wills

  • Identify a proxy or person who can carry out another person’s wishes;
  • Appoint a guardian;
  • Express wishes for organ donations;
  • Answer questions about life sustaining treatments; and
  • A host of other issues related to terminal conditions.

Likewise, living wills have negatives too, which can include:

  • Blurring the lines of healthcare agents and living will proxies;
  • Creating risk for contradiction between other estate planning tools;
  • Provide an opportunity for unclear directives; and
  • A host of other issues.

Again, living wills serve a tremendous purpose. Because Minnesota law makes a distinction between healthcare directives and living wills, the bigger concern is addressing conflict and unintended consequences.

Thus, draft, check, and revisit every estate planning document to prevent contradictions.

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Estate Attorney Jasper Berg