Mississippi Advance Health Care Directive
The Mississippi Advance Health Care Directive represents one of two means that a competent individual (referred to as the Principal) can authorize an Agent of their selection to act on their behalf if they one day become incapacitated. In such a circumstance, the Agent will have the legal authority to “make any health-care decisions the Principal could have made while having capacity.” The Agent will be obligated to act in the Principal’s best interests if the Principal has not stated specific instructions regarding their health-care wishes in their Advance Health Care Directive.
As stated above, there is an alternative to making an Advance Health Care Directive. State law, specifically § 41-41-205, stipulates that “an adult or emancipated minor may give an individual instruction. The instruction may be oral or written.” (“Individual instruction” is defined by § 41-41-203(k) as “an individual’s direction concerning a health-care decision for the individual”).
In other words, the Principal may orally communicate their health care wishes. However, this in inadvisable for a number of reasons. Firstly, oral instructions rely wholly on the memory of the parties involved. Secondly, if the Principal becomes incapacitated, there is no clear documentation of their wishes to refer to. Finally, oral instructions may be more prone to misinterpretation, and in turn, misrepresentation by the parties carrying them out, particularly with the passage of time.
State Laws & Signing Requirements
State Laws – Uniform Health-Case Decisions Act
Signing Requirements – (§ 41-41-205): The Principal must sign the Advance Directive and have it a) acknowledged before a Notary Public or b) witnessed by two (2) witnesses, who must make the specific declaration set forth by this law.