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2023 Law Set to Reform Healthcare Directives

The Floyd Law Firm PC > Information > 2023 Law Set to Reform Healthcare Directives
Legal Sen$e - The Floyd Law Firm PC

At The Floyd Law Firm PC, we are dedicated to helping you understand the complexities of estate planning to ensure your wishes are honored and your loved ones are protected. One crucial aspect of estate planning involves healthcare directives. The Uniform Health Care Decisions Act (UHCDA) has recently been revised to enhance healthcare decision-making for individuals.

The UHCDA, a model law revised in 2023 by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), aims to make it easier to create and use advance directives. Since it is a model law, individual states need to adopt it for it to take effect in their jurisdictions. The revised UHCDA includes several significant updates to improve the functionality of advance directives, which are legal documents that allow you to plan for your medical care if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.

Key Improvements Under the New UHCDA

Remote Witnessing

One of the most notable changes is the ability to create healthcare power of attorney documents with remote witnessing via videoconference. This flexibility makes it easier to execute these crucial documents, particularly in situations where in-person meetings are challenging.

Expanded Capacity Determination

The UHCDA expands the list of healthcare professionals authorized to make a capacity determination. This change ensures that more qualified individuals can evaluate a patient’s ability to make healthcare decisions.

Continuum of Capacity

Recognizing that incapacity can occur along a continuum, the UHCDA allows patients to retain some autonomous decision-making ability when feasible. This approach respects the patient’s autonomy and ensures their wishes are honored as much as possible.

Incapacity Objections

The UHCDA sets out a clear process for individuals who object to a determination of incapacity. This provision provides a means for patients to contest decisions about their capacity, ensuring their rights are protected.

Mental Health Care Directives

For the first time, the UHCDA authorizes the use of advance directives for mental healthcare. Individuals can now provide specific instructions or designate agents for their mental health care, offering greater control over this aspect of their treatment.

Default Surrogate Expansion

The UHCDA expands the list of people who may serve as a “default surrogate” when no power of attorney exists. This expansion reflects a wider array of family relationships and structures, ensuring that more people have someone to make decisions on their behalf.

Clear healthcare directives can prevent confusion and conflict among family members during a medical crisis. A well-defined healthcare power of attorney can also reduce the need for a court-appointed guardian to make decisions about your care.

South Carolina’s Consent Act

In South Carolina, the Adult Health Care Consent Act (SECTION 44-66-10) states that decisions made on behalf of an incapacitated individual should be based on the individual’s wishes to the extent that they can be determined. This aligns with the principles of the UHCDA, reinforcing the importance of respecting the patient’s autonomy.

Planning for the Future with The Floyd Law Firm PC

At The Floyd Law Firm PC, we focus on developing estate plans that are specifically tailored to each client’s needs. An effective estate plan can include a will, trusts, powers of attorney for healthcare and property decisions, and advance health directives such as living wills and healthcare proxies.

If you already have a healthcare proxy, we recommend reviewing it periodically with your estate planning attorney to ensure it remains current and accurately reflects your wishes.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us. Let us help you ensure that your healthcare decisions are in trusted hands.

Learn More

American Bar Association: The New Uniform Health Care Decisions Act: An Overview

Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts

Revocable Living Trusts

Explanation of Durable Power of Attorney

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