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Minnesota Living Wills Laws

What are commonly known as living wills technically are not wills, but similar in that they protect an individual's personal preferences when they are unable to communicate them. State laws regulate what constitutes a valid living will, its specific powers, rules for revocation, and other provisions. Living wills often are used in conjunction with durable powers of attorney (or health care powers of attorney), which give a trusted individual legal control over their affairs in the event of a fatal or life-threatening situation.

The following chart summarizes Minnesota's living will law, with links to additional resources. See FindLaw's Living Wills section for more articles.

Code Section 145B.01, et seq. Living Will Act; 145C.01 Health Care Directive
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Decisions on whether to administer, withhold, or withdraw medical treatment, services, or procedures to maintain, diagnose, or treat an individual's physical condition when the individual is in a terminal condition. Decisions must be based on reasonable medical practice including (1) continuation of appropriate care to maintain comfort, hygiene, human dignity, and to alleviate pain; (2) oral administration of food and water to a patient who accepts it, except for clearly documented medical reasons
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Competent adult; (2) signed by declarant; (3) signed by 2 witnesses or notary public; (4) must state preference regarding artificial administration of nutrition and hydration or give decision to proxy; (5) must be in substantially the statutory form of §145B.04; (6) operative when delivered to physician or health care provider; (7) not given effect if patient is pregnant and it is possible that fetus could develop to live birth with continued treatment
Revocation of Living Will Revocable at any time in any manner in whole or in part by declarant without regard to declarant's physical or mental condition. Effective upon communication to physician. Divorce revokes any designation of the former spouse as a proxy to make health care decisions
Validity from State-to-State Effective when executed in another state if it substantially complies with Minnesota law
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Physician must notify competent declarant of unwillingness but has no duty to transfer. If physician received living will from competent patient and did not notify declarant of unwillingness to comply and declarant subsequently becomes incompetent, physician must take all reasonable steps to transfer to complying physician
Immunity for Attending Physician Physician acting in good faith and in accordance with applicable standards of care is immune from criminal prosecution, civil liability, or professional disciplinary action

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Minnesota estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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