Necessity is the mother of getting things done — The renewed interest in MN’s Healthcare Directive

When going through the estate planning checklist with a client, one commonly skipped item is the healthcare directive. Most things involving finance and health are easy to put off. But one reason the healthcare directive may be postponed is neither the client, nor the advisor, have the medical background to know the risks of not having one.

The conversation of healthcare has been on the top of everyone’s mind since COVID-19 blindsided us. However, we now have a newfound respect for healthcare professionals. Another advantage is people see the need for a healthcare directive.

For those that don’t know, a healthcare directive is generally comprised of a living will and a medical power of attorney. The living will communicates your desired medical care and the medical power of attorney gives a third party the right to make decisions for you and execute your desired medical wishes.

My increased interaction with healthcare professionals has been eye opening.  When someone chooses an investment, they should be aware of the risks, the returns, and possible outcomes. When someone chooses a medical treatment, they should consider the same.

When I asked a healthcare professional to give an example of a procedure’s results patients generally didn’t anticipate, the answer surprised me. I was told CPR, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is rarely successful like it is in the movies and on TV. The patient seldom gets up and walks away like nothing happened.

In real life, a small percentage actually survive to be discharged and of those that do, many have long-term cognitive disability.

The CPR myth (a myth for most of us) is just an example of one of the procedures you may, or may not, want done. In order to make sure the best available outcomes are available to us, having the conversation with loved ones and filling out the Minnesota Healthcare Directive can increase the probability that you are in the best possible position.

In Minnesota, the state combines the living will and the medical power of attorney in one form. This approach makes perfect sense. If you have specific wishes expressed in the living will, you need someone with the legal authority to carry them out, expressed with the medical power of attorney.

There are many choices that you can express into MN’s Healthcare Directive, including:

  • Designating your agent, and alternate agents
  • Defining your goals, values and preferences regarding health care
  • Medical treatments you desire, and those you don’t
  • Preferred location of care
  • Preferences around artificial nutrition and hydration
  • Mental health treatment preference
  • If you wish to donate organs

The mindset around investing has been useful over the years. The CFA helped train me by asking me to look into the future and ask: What are the possible outcomes? What do they look like? Lastly, what is the cost of increasing the chances of having my most desirable outcomes?

When I hear healthcare professionals talk about balancing the “outcomes” of possible medical procedures, the parallels are clear. The healthiest position is one where risk and return are balanced and defined in advance.

Stay safe. Stay well. And try to cultivate beauty every day.