An Oklahoma Advance Directive lets Oklahoma residents formally establish their health care preferences in writing. In a situation (like a medical emergency) where they’re unable to communicate those preferences, an Oklahoman’s advance directive tells medical personnel which actions to take (like whether to resuscitate them or not).
1. What Is an Oklahoma Advance Directive?
An important legal document for estate planning, an Oklahoma Advance Directive (also known as a medical power of attorney and living will) allows you to outline specific instructions for your care in case you become incapacitated and thus incapable of declaring your preferred medical treatment. You can use this document to highlight your wishes regarding artificially-administered nutrition and other potential life-sustaining treatments.
Your Oklahoma Advance Directive also allows you to designate an agent or agents, who will then be responsible for making key healthcare decisions if you ever become unable to do so on your own. Furthermore, you can designate whether you would like to donate your organs in the event of your death.
As you draft and complete your Oklahoma Advance Directive, you may see these important terms:
- Attending physician: The medical professional who is primarily responsible for the patient. The attending physician must be informed of your advance health care directive for it to become valid.
- Declarant: The person who issues the Oklahoma Advance Directive. If you create this document, you are the declarant.
- Qualified patient: Any adult patient who has executed an advance directive for health care in Oklahoma and is determined to be incapacitated. If you complete an Oklahoma Advance Directive and become unable to make informed decisions about your healthcare, you will be referred to as a qualified patient at that time.
- Life-sustaining treatment: Any healthcare procedure that serves exclusively to extend the process of dying, rather than provide a permanent cure for the patient.
- Terminal condition: An irreversible health problem that, according to the attending physician and at least one additional doctor, will lead to the qualified patient’s death within six months.
These and other relevant terms are outlined in Title 63, Section 3101.3 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
2. Who Should Have an Advance Directive for Health Care in Oklahoma?
If you’re an Oklahoma resident with a desire to control your own future, you are a perfect candidate for an advance health care directive for health care. This document is of great value to any adult residing in Oklahoma, regardless of health or marital status.
An Oklahoma Advance Directive is often completed in response to on or more of the following life events:
- Career transition
- Diagnosis with an illness or condition
- Diagnosis of a loved one
- Being asked to act as an agent for somebody else’s advance health care directive
- Having children or grandchildren
- Getting married or divorced
Minimum requirements for completing an advance directive in Oklahoma include being 18 years old and of sound mind. If you fit this description, there is no reason not to complete this essential component of end-of-life planning.
As soon as you sign your Oklahoma Advance Directive, you will enjoy greater confidence in your future. Should the worst-case scenario arise, this document ensures that you will receive the quality of care you deserve.
3. How to Select Your Agent(s)
Your agent, sometimes referred to in Oklahoma as a “health care proxy”, will receive considerable authority over your medical care as soon as you designate them in your Oklahoma Advance Directive form and once you’ve been declared incapacitated. Given the scope of this responsibility, it is crucial you choose your agent carefully.
Key factors that you should consider when making this decision include:
- Maturity. Your agent is legally required to be at least 18 years old. However, age alone should not determine whether a particular person is suitable for the role. Some people can handle the responsibilities of this job at a young age, while others are never equipped to bear this emotional burden.
- Personal convictions. What are your agent’s beliefs regarding end-of-life care? Could he or she violate their own beliefs if instructed to do so in your Oklahoma Advance Directive? While you and your agent need not agree on every matter, you should at least feel confident that this person will carry out your wishes.
- Financial interests. The state of Oklahoma prohibits anybody who stands to gain financially from acting as a witness for your advance directive for health care. This same principle can also be applied to your agent. People generally prefer to select agents who will not be impacted by the financial implications of this document, but are legally permitted to do so if they so choose.
4. Which Decisions Can Your Agent(s) Make On Your Behalf?
Depending on your situation and stated preferences in your Oklahoma Advance Directive, your agent may take the following actions on your behalf:
- Secure access to relevant medical records.
- Admit you to or withdraw you from a particular medical facility.
- Approve the use of various medications or procedures.
Your health care agent is permitted to begin making these and other decisions as soon as the attending physician has determined you lack the ability to make informed choices.
The more specific your Oklahoma Advance Directive, the better. Your agent is expected to abide by your stated wishes regardless of influence by other people. If, however, you fail to provide specific details, your agent will need to use their best judgement based on what he or she believes you would want.
Note, however, that Title 63, Section 3101.2 of the Oklahoma Statutes specifically states that your agent’s decision-making powers do not extend to assisted suicide — nor can plans for euthanasia be outlined in a valid Oklahoma Advance Directive.
5. What to Do If You Change Your Mind
It is possible — and not particularly difficult — to change or revoke your Advance Directive for Health Care in Oklahoma.
Revocation often occurs in response to:
- A divorce or other life-changing event.
- The original agent no longer being willing to or capable of fulfilling their role.
- An evolving stance on end-of-life care by the declarant.
If you choose to revoke your Oklahoma Advance Directive, you can do so by destroying the original document. Title 63, Section 3101.6 of the Oklahoma Statutes differs from most other states in that revocation of an Oklahoma Advance Directive form may take place at any time by the declarant — regardless of their current mental or physical condition.
Creating and executing a new advance health care directive will also revoke your previous one.
Your revocation will become effective once your physician has been notified. Otherwise, a witness to your revocation will need to notify your physician for you.
6. How to Complete Your Oklahoma Advance Directive
Once drafted, take a moment to review your Oklahoma Advance Directive and ensure it accurately reflects your wishes regarding end-of-life care. If you feel confident with your finalized document, sign it in the company of two witnesses. These individuals should be at least 18 years old and should not be listed as beneficiaries in your last will and testament.
The use of a notary is recommended but not required for an Oklahoma Advance Health Care Directive to go into effect.
To also empower your agent to make non-medical decisions on your behalf (such as financial transactions), use an Oklahoma general power of attorney form.
Your Oklahoma Advance Directive will ultimately prove well worth the effort. Don’t hesitate to get started on this essential estate planning form today.