Everyone should think about drafting medical powers of attorney and living wills. If you are getting older, it is a good idea for you to go ahead and draft these documents. The staff at Elder Care Direction can help you to understand these important forms and other estate planning documents that you might also want to create.
What is a medical power of attorney?
A medical power of attorney is a legal document through which you grant a designated person the authority to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. This document will only be effective if you suffer an incapacitating illness or injury that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself.
How a medical power of attorney differs from a living will
A living will is a document that you can use to communicate the types of medical care that you want to receive in certain circumstances. It is not as robust as a medical power of attorney. You cannot use a living will to appoint someone else to make medical decisions for you. It only applies if you have a terminal illness or are permanently unconscious. Some states allow living wills to be effective when the benefits of medical treatment are outweighed by the burdens. A medical power of attorney and a living will can be included in a single document or two separate documents.
Choosing your agent
The person that you want to choose to serve as your agent must be an adult. Your agent does not have to be one of your family members. You should choose someone that you trust to follow your wishes. You should let your agent know your wishes about different treatments that you would or would not want if you are terminally injured or ill. Your agent should not be someone who will be intimidated by your doctors. He or she might need to be strong if your wishes run contrary to a doctor’s medical advice. Your agent should also be someone who will follow your wishes even if he or she disagrees with them.
More than one person can be named as an agent. However, it is best to choose only one. Problems could arise if two or more agents disagree. You can name a successor agent if your first choice is unavailable to fulfill the duty at the time that you become incapacitated.
A majority of the states have fill-in-the-blank medical powers of attorney forms. Some also include living wills in their forms. You do not have to use the form that your state has adopted. However, it is a good idea to do so since your health care providers will be likelier to accept the state form.
Your living will and medical power of attorney will only be effective if your doctor knows about them. You should give your agent the originals. Your doctor should be given copies for your medical record. If you are going into the hospital, you will want to give the hospital copies during your admission.
Contact Elder Care Direction for help
A medical power of attorney allows your agent to make decisions for you that follow your wishes when you are incapacitated. If you would like to learn more about living wills and medical powers of attorney, Elder Care Direction can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by completing our online contact form.