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Advance Health Care Directives

Updated: Oct 4

In Utah, the Advance Health Care Directive is a tool to designate a health care agent that goes into effect upon your inability to make or communicate healthcare decisions, including decisions about end-of-life care. And, while this is a useful tool for you to have, you might also consider obtaining one for any of your aging relatives who might not be able to obtain one for themselves.

In Utah, an Advance Health Care Directive is a tool to designate a health care agent, or someone to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. It goes into effect upon your inability to make or communicate health care decisions. If you fail to appoint someone to fill this role, the court will appoint a guardian, which may create a costly legal process.


If you have Advance Health Care Directive, you are able to choose the person who will determine what treatments and health care you will receive, including end-of-life or palliative care decisions. Your health care agent makes surrogate decisions, which means that they step in your shoes and make the decisions that you would make on your own if you were able to do so.


Ideally, surrogate decisions should be based on your input and the specific preferences you communicated before any loss of decision-making capacity. It should be based on a prior understanding your health care preferences and what you would want under the circumstances.


Health Care Directives are intensely personal documents. When thinking about creating your own, consider:

  • Your values and how they may be reflected in your health care;

  • Your priorities;

  • What life means to you personally; and

  • How important quality of life is to you.

Are there certain conditions that are worse than death to you? Would you undergo a risky procedure if it had a low chance of survival? What if that same procedure had a high chance of survival but would permanently lower your quality of life? How long would you like to be on life support? It’s never fun to think about these things, but by selecting a health care agent and informing them of your preferences, you are preparing for the worst-case scenario and ensuring that your wishes will be followed.


Clearly, the consequences of having or not having a Health Care Directive can be huge, which is why we so strongly advocate that everyone, regardless of age or health, have one in their estate plan. Please don’t leave your relatives to fumble in the dark if the unthinkable happens and you are unable to make your own health care decisions.


Again, while an Advance Health Care Directive will be helpful to you in the future, you might have an elderly relative who is in need of one right now. So, whether you need one for yourself or for a loved one, contact us today at (385) 334-4030 or send an email to info@skvlegal.com to set up your free consultation to determine your specific needs.