Utah Advance Health Care Directive Frequently Asked Questions

I did a Living Will and Special Power of Attorney for Health Care on the old forms. Are they still valid?

Living Wills and Special Power of Attorney documents that were completed before 2008 are valid. But research has shown that forms like the old Utah forms do not improve the chances that a patient’s wishes will be honored. If you are able, you should complete a new directive on the new form.

Do I need a lawyer to complete an Advance Health Care Directive?

The forms were designed for people to complete without a lawyer and the law does not require that a lawyer be involved in the creation of the form. The law does not prohibit lawyers from helping to complete the forms. Most lawyers will charge you to complete the form. If you have serious or life-limiting health care conditions you should discuss your choices with your health care provider.

What’s the difference between an Advance Health Care Directive and a POLST?

An advance health care directive is a document designed for members of the public to name a health care agent and to express preferences about care at the end of life. Every adult in Utah aged 18 and older should have an advance directive because every adult could be in a position where he or she cannot make health care decisions due to an accident or illness.

In contrast the POLST, the Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment is a medical order, like a prescription for medication, that must be prepared by a licensed health care provider, working with the patient or a surrogate decision maker. The POLST is relevant:

  • For those nearing the end of life
  • For those with advanced disease such as cancer, COPD, or liver, kidney, or heart failure.
  • For those with very specific choices about end-of-life care. For example, if you would not want CPR performed if your heart stopped and emergency services were called, the POLST is the only document that allows EMTs and Paramedics to provide comfort measures only, and not provide CPR or other life-prolonging interventions.

If your question is not listed here, please email Anne Elizabeth Palmer, Executive Director, and we will post your question with the answer to the FAQ page.