Directive to Physician

An Oklahoma directive to physician, sometimes called a “living will” directs how medical decisions are to be handled when a person is unable to express their desires.  For instance a person can designate what treatment they want to receive and whether they are to receive artificially administered nutrition and hydration in the event they are terminally ill, or persistently unconscious, or the have an end stage condition.

In the event a person prefers the decisions be made by a person who can evaluate the circumstances at the time they are unable to make their own decision, they can name a person or persons to serve as their health care proxy to make those decisions when they are unable to make these difficult decisions.

A directive to physicians also allows a person to make anatomical gifts of their body or organs after they pass away.  A desire to not make an anatomical gift can also be expressed in a directive to physician.

The statute with the Oklahoma Advance Directive form can be found at 63 O.S. 3101.4.  Although the statute allows a person to not use the form and make up their own document expressing their wishes, there are significant risks associated with not customizing the standard form.  One risk is the medical providers are more likely familiar with the standard form and more comfortable in following the directions contained in the standard form.  If the medical provider is presented an unfamiliar form, they may think they have to send it to a legal department to evaluate whether they are allowed to follow the directions contained in the document and help in interpreting the wishes of the person who cannot make their own decisions.

In using the standard form, it usually is not a wise decision to simply fill in the blanks without giving some serious thought to what you really want.  It is important to discuss the issues with family members so that they know what you want.  A resource for beginning the discussion can be found at The Conversation Project.  Another resource to help you work through exactly what you want is by completing a form prepared by the Center for Health Law and Ethics, University of New Mexico School of Law, which can be found on this webpage.  If you cannot find it their, you can download it directly here.  Please take some time to educate yourself on your options and what you want for yourself and your family before you visit with your attorney so you can make an informed choice and ask questions of your attorney to make sure your wishes are followed.

This article was written 1/20/2015 and updated 7/6/2016 by Todd Willhoite, an estate planning attorney in Claremore, specifically for the Oklahoma jurisdiction.  A different result may occur in a different jurisdiction and the law does change, so it is important to seek competent legal and tax advice from professionals before acting on anything written in this article.  Abby Law Offices Inc is a law office that handles estate planning law in Claremore, Oklahoma.