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Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLSTs) in the State of Minnesota

Jeff Thone

Recently our office has heard from multiple individuals indicating that they had heard of a new estate planning document called a POLST and asking whether they needed to amend their estate plans to include one. Thankfully, in each of those instances, and for most of our clients, the answer is that a POLST isn’t needed as part of a normal estate plan.

POLST stands for Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. Instead of the estate planning documents that we prepare for our clients as part of their estate plans, a POLST is a form document that is filled out and signed by a primary medical provider (doctors, nurses, physician assistants) and acts as a medical order to direct how other medical providers (including emergency medical providers, ambulance crews, and nursing home and hospice staff) treat the patient. A POLST is usually only used when an individual has been advised that they have less than a year to live. In that end of life situation, the POLST form can serve as an outline for an educated conversation between a doctor and their patient regarding the end-of-life treatment options the patient faces in the near future. When the POLST form is completed, it serves as a medical order from primary provider as to how other providers should treat the patient.

While POLSTs are documents that are used and prepared by medical providers, attorneys draft the Health Care Directives that we recommend for our estate planning clients. In most cases where we are working on a client’s estate plan, our clients are not suffering from any significant health issues. While they are healthy, the client probably doesn’t know what medical condition they might face in the future or what the standard treatments are for that condition. In those situations clients work with their lawyers to express their general thoughts to cover health issues that hopefully won’t arise for decades and identify a health care agent who they trust to make health care decisions for them in the future.

Clients who have serious illnesses or injuries should be aware of the potential benefits of a POLST and should discuss the documents with their doctors. The rest of us do not need to worry about a POLST but should have a Health Care Directive as part of their estate plan. If you have further questions about POLSTs or Health Care Directives please contact the attorneys at Sanford, Pierson, Thone & Strean, PLC.

Author; Wayzata Attorney, Jeffrey Thone

About the Author

Wayzata Attorney, Jeffrey Thone

Wayzata Attorney, Jeffrey Thone

Jeff Thone was raised in the Twin Cities and Rochester, Minnesota. He was a political science major and a 1983 graduate of the University of Minnesota. Jeff also attended the University of Minnesota's law school where he was a cum laude graduate in 1986.

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Wayzata, MN  55391

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