Advance care planning (ACP) is often a difficult conversation to initiate. Until recently, Indiana laws and forms added to the difficulty by presenting conflicting and outdated statutes and forms. Thankfully, these were addressed in the 2021 legislative session when several major revisions were instituted.
ACP is the process of preparing for future medical decision by discussing and documenting your values and choices, including choosing a health care representative. Who would speak for you if you could not speak for yourself in a medical crisis? Would they know your wishes? Being able to capture these decisions in an accessible format becomes crucial.
Indiana advance directives statutes were overdue for an update.
- Advance directives were static documents requiring legislative action to change.
- The living will contained outdated language and all-or-nothing options.
- There were two legal methods of appointing a healthcare representative leading to confusion and redundancy.
- Covid-19 demonstrated how signing documents “in the direct presence” of witnesses is not always possible.
State legislators, the Indiana Patient Preferences Coalition, and others collaborated to address these difficulties.
- The new law establishes guidelines rather than static forms, allowing for flexibility in recording treatment preferences.
- A broad range of treatments can now be documented rather than answering yes or no to only one or two options.
- The new health care representative (HCR) designation combines HCR and power of attorney with greater clarity of the role. The authority of the HCR was expanded when acting on behalf of a patient, such as the right to sign a POST form.
- Greater signing flexibility was instituted when people are not in the same physical location.
So, does this mean that my current forms are no longer valid? Will I need to fill out new forms? Previously completed forms remain in effect with no expiration date. While new forms are not required, we recommend that all advance directives be reviewed every 5-10 years to address changes in life situations and preferences.
Where can I find the new forms? Again, the state will no longer issue official forms. In the future, the Indiana Advance Directives Resource Center will offer links to examples of forms that meet the guidelines. One such example can be found at www.prepareforyourcare.org by entering your state and downloading a PDF.
Honoring Choices Indiana – North Central provides up-to-date information on ACP laws as well as assisting you with the conversation and completing forms – all at no charge. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to experience the peace of mind that ACP brings.