Arkansas Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care: What you need to know

Why do you need a living will and power of attorney for health care?

If you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age, the right legal documents are your lifeline. When you don’t write down your wishes about the kinds of medical treatment you do or don’t want to receive and name someone you trust to oversee your care, these important matters can be placed in the hands of estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges, who may know very little about what you would prefer.

What are health care forms called in Arkansas?

There are two basic kinds of health care documents that everyone should make. First, you’ll need a document naming a trusted person to direct your health care if you are unable to do so yourself. This document is commonly called a power of attorney. In Arkansas, the official name for this form is a durable power of attorney for health care.

Second, you should make a document setting out the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations. In Arkansas, this form is called a living will.

Who makes health care decisions for me in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, the person you name to make decisions for you is called your health care agent. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend as their health care agent. Under Arkansas law, your health care agent may not be under 18 years old.

What else do I need to know about choosing a health care agent in Arkansas?

Your health care agent will begin to make health care decisions for you when you lack the capacity to do so.

When choosing your health care agent, the most crucial criteria are trustworthiness and dependability. You might also want to choose someone you think will be good at asserting your health care wishes if others argue against them — that is, someone who is persistent or calm under pressure.

While you need not name someone who lives in Arkansas, the person you name should at least be willing and able to travel to your bedside if necessary.

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