Plain Language Standard

Kimble Center’s Power of Attorney goes to the top of its class

Image, interior of a cathedral dome

Organising a power of attorney document for your healthcare means others can take care of you when you can’t. Image by Bimatshu Pyakuryal / Unsplash licence

We all hope we’ll always be able to make our own decisions about our healthcare. But what if we can’t?

The Kimble Center for Legal Drafting, based at Western Michigan University–Cooley Law School in the US, has published a new Power of Attorney document. People can use the Power of Attorney to set up someone they trust to make decisions about their healthcare if they’re not able to. What’s more, the Power of Attorney is easy to understand — and it’s free to use for US citizens.

Kimble Center’s Power of Attorney goes to the top of its class WriteMark

Design elements guide the user through the document. Image by Gusto Design.

The Kimble Center’s legal team decided they wanted their new document to be top of its class. So they first asked the members of their advisory board for feedback. Then they applied for another layer of review through the WriteMark assessment process.

The WriteMark assessment considers purpose, structure, content, language, and design as part of a rigorous document analysis.

Design to support the purpose of the document

The Center engaged the team at Gusto Design to create a design that would support clarity and readability.
Annette Ellis, Creative Director at Gusto, explains:

We worked with the Kimble Center for Legal Drafting to make a complex process clear and easy to understand. The plain language used for the Power of Attorney form is visually supported using design elements that guide the user through the form, making it easy for them to understand and fill out.

Instructions are provided as shaded boxes adjacent to the form fields, providing users with additional information that helps them understand how to fill out the form correctly. This extra guidance is critical to ensure the form accurately captures their wishes.


Kimble Center’s Power of Attorney goes to the top of its class WriteMark

Clear design is critical to ensure the form accurately captures the user’s wishes. Image by Gusto Design

All boxes ticked

With its plain language and simple design, the Power of Attorney for My Health Care goes to the top of its class. It meets all the elements of the WriteMark Plain Language Standard — and it’s the first document of its type to achieve the Standard.

Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at WMU–Cooley Law School, acknowledges the input from the WriteMark team:

I’m grateful for the invaluable suggestions we received from Anne-Marie Chisnall (a member of our international board of advisers) and then from the WriteMark assessment team. Those suggestions significantly improved almost every page.

And tested with users too

Since we originally published this story, researchers at Michigan State University have user-tested the Power of Attorney document. The Kimble Center applied recommendations from the user-testing report and did a little rewording and redesigning of the document. With these changes, the Power of Attorney achieved WriteMark Plus.

WriteMark Plus is awarded to documents that have reached the WriteMark Standard and that also undergo user-testing for further fine-tuning.

Find out more about WriteMark Plus — the ultimate in communication excellence

Legal documents unlike anything that the public has seen before

The Kimble Center for Legal Drafting paves the way for innovative legal documents. This article on the Center’s website describes its origins and goals.

July 31st, 2020

Posted In: The WriteMark, WriteMark Holders, WriteMark Plus

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