Montana’s End-of-Life Registry
Montana’s End-of-Life Registry stores advance health care directives in a secure computer database and makes these documents available to health care providers. Section 50-9-501 of the Montana Code Annotated authorizes Montana’s Attorney General to create and maintain an End-of-Life Registry that:
- securely stores directives relating to life-sustaining treatment
- is accessible online
- provides immediate access to authorized health care providers
Advance Health Care Directives
Advance health care directives provide instructions about the level of health care someone wants or does not want in the event that they become seriously ill and unable to speak for themselves. Advance directives can be short, simple statements expressing someone’s values and choices. Advance directives are not used as long as an individual is able to express his or her own decisions on whether to accept or refuse medical treatment. They are used only when an attending health care provider determines that someone is in a terminal condition and is no longer able to participate in making decisions regarding medical treatment.
The Registry does not provide legal advice or legal services. Consumers should consult with their doctor, attorney or agencies that specialize in end-of-life care choices about any questions they have related to advance health care directives, living wills, health care (medical) powers of attorney and other personalized directives. Further information is available online including:
- Aging with Dignity and Five Wishes directive
- American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Law and Aging and Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning (PDF)
- Caring Connections
- MHA: An Association of Montana Health Care Providers
- Mayo Clinic and Living wills and advance directives: Tools for medical wishes
- Montana POLST (Provider Order For Life Sustaining Treatment)
How to File an Advance Directive
You cannot file or change an advance directive online. To register a directive, you must be at least 18 years of age.
- Complete your advance directive. You may use the directive form or any other version that meets the requirements specified in Montana law. Regardless of the format, directives must be signed by two witnesses.
- Complete the Montana End-of-Life Consumer Registration Agreement. Section B allows you to specify the level of privacy you want for your personal information. If you do not indicate which option you want, you will be assigned the standard privacy level:
- Standard privacy – allows access by the person who filed the directive, registered health care providers and anyone with that person’s Social Security number, birth date and mother’s maiden name, or with the name and access code.
- Higher privacy – allows access only by the person who filed the directive, registered health care providers, and anyone with the name and access code.
- Mail both forms to:
Office of Consumer Protection P.O. Box 201410 Helena, MT 59620-1410
- Within approximately three weeks, the Office of Consumer Protection will send you a letter that:
- indicates that your advance directive has been registered in the Montana End-of-Life Registry
- confirms your identifying information
- includes a wallet card and four labels – two to place on the back of your driver’s license and insurance card, and two extra. The card contains the access code you use to check your advance directive through the online Montana End-of-Life Registry Service.
- If the Office of Consumer Protection determines that an advance directive does not meet the legal requirements, it will return the directive and Consumer Registration Agreement with a letter indicating what additional information is needed.
You may also wish to provide a copy of your advance directive to your physician or other health care providers. Providers are required to make your directive part of your medical record and to follow its provisions. When you name a person as your designee, the attending physician or other health care provider is required to follow the designee’s instructions.
How to Change an Advance Directive
Consumers can always change their minds about their advance health care directive. To change an advance directive registered with the Attorney General’s Office, mail the following to the Office of Consumer Protection:
- the new advance directive
- a Montana End-of-Life Consumer Registration Agreement indicating that you wish to replace your existing directive with a new one
Health Care Provider Registration
Montana law defines a health care provider as a person who is licensed, certified or otherwise authorized by the laws of Montana to administer health care in the ordinary course of business or practice of a profession. This includes but is not limited to hospitals, doctors, skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, home health agencies, home health care providers, ambulatory surgery facilities and hospices.
The End-of-Life Registry program has worked with the Montana State University (MSU) Extension Service and MHA – An Association of Montana Health Care Providers to create a number of resources to help health care facilities implement the program:
- Implementation Guidelines for Health Care Facilities – a brief outline of the basic steps necessary to inform health care facility administrators and staff about the End-of-Life Registry
- MSU Family Economics PowerPoint Presentations Estate Planning: Montana’s End-of-Life Registry – a 45-slide overview of the Registry
- MontGuide #200602: Montana’s End-of-Life Registry (PDF) – answers to commonly asked questions about the Registry
Registry services are provided free of charge to health care providers and consumers.
- Complete the Health Care Provider Registration Agreement and mail it to: Office of Consumer Protection, P.O. Box 201410, Helena, MT 59620-1410
- Within approximately three weeks, the Office of Consumer Protection will send you a letter that confirms your identifying information and provides the user name and password needed to search for advance directives through the Montana End-of-Life Registry Service
Problems with Access in an Urgent Situation
If the online service is down or you are having trouble accessing a directive in an urgent situation, please call the 24-hour Help Desk toll free at (866) 675-3314. Health care providers should have their login information available.
Family and friends need their user name and access code, or name, Social Security number, date of birth and/or mother’s maiden name.
Once the information is confirmed, the Help Desk will fax or e-mail the advance directive.
Joan Eliel, Program Specialist
Office of Consumer Protection and Victim Services
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 201410
Helena, MT 59620-1410
Phone: (406) 444-0660 or (866) 675-3314
Fax: (406) 442-2174