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  • Scott A. Hale

New Indiana Advance Directive Law Provides More Options for Patients

On April 15, 2021, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed Senate Enrolled Act 204 into law (SEA 204). This Act broadens options for individuals to make their health care wishes known. SEA 204 went into effect July 1, 2021.

What Are Advance Directives?

An advance directive is a legal document signed by a competent person to provide guidance for medical and health care decisions. These documents help ensure that an individual’s health care wishes are followed in the event that they are unable to communicate those wishes to medical providers and loved ones.

What Does SEA 204 Do?

Prior to SEA 204, individuals would typically incorporate three separate legal documents related to their health care wishes into their estate plan, a health care power of attorney, an appointment of health care representative, and a living will declaration. The passage of SEA 204 simplifies and streamlines the health care planning process by taking an individual’s instructions that previously would be included in those three documents and instead allows individuals to memorialize their wishes in a single advance directive.

The new advance directive will allow individuals to appoint health care representatives, provide instructions for end-of-life care and life prolonging procedures, express preferred mental health planning, perform after death planning, and assist with application for public benefits all in one document.

Other Changes

SEA 204 also allows for remote signature options. One option allows individuals to sign the advance directive electronically during a video call with the patient and two adult witnesses or a notary public. Another form of remote execution allowed by The Act permits the signing of paper copies of the advance directive during a video call with the patient two adult witnesses or a notary, so long as the separately signed copies are assembled into a single document within 10 days.

Under this new law, health care powers contained in a traditional durable power of attorney after the transition date will be treated as void.

SEA 204 does not provide a statutory form or required language and was written with the intention to provide flexibility in how future health care decisions are documented.

SEA 204 also provides protections for health care providers who follow the advance directives of their patients.

When Do These Changes Take effect?

Although SEA 204 was effective as of July 1, The Act provides a transition period that ends December 31, 2022. By the end of the transition period, all law offices and medical facilities will need to make sure their advance directives and procedures comply with SEA 204.

Where can I get More Information?

Additional information about the new advance directive can be found at the Indiana State Department of Health Advance Directives Resource Center.

If you have questions about how SEA 204 may affect you, please feel free to give me a call.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act, or refrain from acting, based on anything you read in this article. Using this article or communicating with Scott A. Hale Attorney at Law through this article does not form an attorney/client relationship.

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