Advanced Directives – Effective July 1, 2021

Effective July 1, 2021, Senate Enrolled Act No. 204 made some notable changes to Indiana’s estate planning and Health Care Advance Directive law. The new law provides for more flexibility and gives clients more options when making estate planning decisions. Under the new law, all previously executed living wills and health care representative appointments remain valid. If, however, you would like to learn more or update your existing plan based on the new law, please contact the attorneys at Dollard Evans Whalin for a free consultation.  

With how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily lives, Indiana law has adapted to allow for more remote access to the legal execution of documents, including advance directives. Advance directives are generally required to be executed by the declarant in the presence of either two witnesses or a notarial officer. Importantly, “presence” is now defined more broadly to permit an advance directive to be signed and witnessed using audiovisual technology, whereby the declarant and witness are able to interact with each other in real-time using a two-way, visual and auditory communication such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  

In addition, an advance directive may be signed and witnessed through real-time telephonic interaction, even if one or more of the persons involved cannot see one another. If the advance directive is being witnessed through telephonic interaction, the advance directive must include a statement indicating that it is being witnessed in that manner. 

The act also provides for the creation of a new Health Care Advance Directive document. The Health Care Advance Directive, among other things, eliminates the need for a separate living will document and healthcare representative appointment, as those can now be incorporated into a single advance directive. The Health Care Advance Directive will allow clients to do the following: 

  • State specific health care decisions, such as specific medications you may or may not wish to receive. 
  • State preferences or desires for life prolonging procedures, pain-relief, comfort care, or assistance with daily activities. For example, you could now explain in the Health Care Advance Directive that you would not like to receive artificial hydration, but you would like to have ice cubes brushed on your lips to lessen the symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth. 
  • Specifically disqualify someone from serving as a health care representative. 

Previously, clients were limited in the scope of written direction they could provide regarding end-of-life care. Now, detailed instructions may be given in the form of the Health Care Advance Directive. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more. 

Dollard Evans Whalin blog posts and articles are intended for informational purposes only. For ethical reasons, Dollard Evans Whalin attorneys cannot—outside of an attorney-client relationship—answer specific questions that would constitute legal advice. Please call 317-770-7070 or e-mail drew@dollardevanswhalin.com for a free consultation today.