Power of Attorney
A standard practice during any estate planning session is for the attorney to discuss the various documents that are known as advance directives to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the client in anticipation of some type of illness or incapacity. Without such documents in place, the law will determine who would make decisions for you in the event that you could not make them for yourself. The decision made by a Circuit court Judge or a hospital may not be the one that you would make for yourself.
Everyone should carefully consider appointing someone to act as their agent under a durable power of attorney and a designation of health care surrogate. Creating a power of attorney is especially important for individuals without close family, for individuals that have second or third marriages, or for individuals that might have some type of discord within their family. It is also important for individuals who are living with a life partner or in a non-traditional relationship.
Types of Power of Attorneys – Advance Directives
Durable Power of Attorney: (including financial power of attorney) A document that you create in advance of becoming incapacitated that designates a trusted person to act as your agent with regard to your assets, liabilities, and all financial aspects of your life.
Health Care Power of Attorney: Designates someone that has the legal authority to consult with your physicians and make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so.
Health Care Living Will: A written statement regarding the level of treatment, if any, you would desire in the event that you are suffering from an illness or injury under circumstances that you are unable to make decisions on your own and you are in a persistent vegetative state, an end stage condition, or some other terminal condition.
Do I need an Advanced Healthcare Objective?
It is often difficult for individuals to think about the care and treatment they want in the event they are incapable of making their own health care decisions. However, completing an Advance Healthcare Directive is important for all individuals over 18 years of age as they may unexpectedly be in a position where they cannot speak for themselves, such as an accident or severe illness.
An Advanced Healthcare Objective allows individuals to appoint an agent who has power of attorney to make care and treatment decisions on their behalf, and give instructions about their health care wishes. This legally binding document will inform your physician, family and friends about your health care preferences, including the types of special treatment you may or may not want at the end of life. By considering your options early, you can ensure the quality of life that is important to you and avoid having your family guess your wishes.