Appointing an Agent
The Alaska Advance Health Care Directive is a form that allows a person to express his or her preferences regarding a variety of health care matters. The form covers five topics (parts) consisting of a total of 15 sections. The following material provides an outline of the various sections. But first, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If you use this form, you may complete or modify all or any part of it. You are free to use a different form if the form complies with the requirements of the state law governing health care advance directives (AS 13.52).
- You also have the right to change or completely revoke this advance health care directive at any time, as long as you are mentally competent to do so.
- Many people wonder whether their Alaska Advance Health Care Directive will be honored in another state. Although each state has its own laws regarding advance directives, in general it’s safe to say that your directive will be honored. Likewise, if you have an advance directive from another state, it should be honored in Alaska. However, if you winter in another state, it might be wise to complete an advance directive form for that state as well. Just be sure that the information and decisions you make are similar on both forms. If the forms conflict, the guidance that you provide may be lost.
Naming Your Agent
Part 1 of the form contains language to create a durable power of attorney for health care. By filling out this section of the form, you name another person as your agent to act on your behalf for health care matters.
“Durable” means that this person will be able to make health care decisions for you even if you do not have the capacity to make your own decisions. “Capacity”is defined as a person’s ability to receive and evaluate information and to make and communicate health care decisions.
Although you can choose just about any adult to serve as your agent, your agent may not be an owner, operator, or employee of a health care institution where you are receiving care, unless he or she is related to you.
You may also name an alternate agent to act for you if your first choice is not willing, able, or reasonably available to make decisions for you.
Your Agent’s Authority
Section 2 of the form discusses what sort of decisions your agent can make for you. It also has a place for you to limit the authority of your agent. You do not have to limit the authority of your agent if you wish to rely on your agent for all health care decisions that may need to be made. If no limits are placed on your agent’s power, your agent may make all health care decisions for you that you could legally make for yourself.
If you do not limit the authority of your agent, your agent will have the right to:
- consent or refuse consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition, including the administration or discontinuation of psychotropic medication;
- select or discharge health care providers and institutions;
- approve or disapprove proposed diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and medication;
- direct the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care; and
- make an anatomical gift following your death, such as organ donation.
If you want to limit your agent’s authority, you need to write in what you do NOT want to allow your agent to decide in Section 2:
When Agent’s Authority Becomes Effective
In Section 3 of the form, you may allow your agent’s authority to make health care decisions to become effective immediately, even though you still have the capacity to make those decisions, by marking the box. If you do not mark the box, the agent doesn’t have authority to act on your behalf unless/until you do not have capacity to make decisions.
Section 4 of the form explains the obligation of the agent to act according to your known wishes or in your best interest if your wishes are not known.
Nomination of Guardian
Section 5 states that the person you name as your agent is also your choice to serve as your guardian if one must be appointed by a court, even if you have nominated someone else in a separate General Power of Attorney form.