Living Wills / Medical POA
Too many times prospective clients have come to me when a family member has been severely injured in a car collision or a construction accident and they are so injured they cannot make medical decisions by themselves, or they are in a Coma. The family members have been asked by the doctors as to who has the authority to make the necessary medical decisions, including whether they may need to take them off of life support.
The first things I ask are “Did they sign a Medical Power of Attorney or a Living Will?” “Did the make out a Will?” Did they sign a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney?
Most people have no idea that they need to have all four (4) of these documents prepared and signed once they become adults.
A Medical Power of Attorney is a document that lets the family and the healthcare providers know who the injured person has designated to make medical decisions for them if they are considered incapacitated. The Medical Power of Attorney is for all cases where the injured party is unable, for some reason as determined by the doctors, to make their own medical decisions.
It could be in the case of a severe head trauma, Coma, where the required medical treatment keeps them in a state where they don’t know what they are doing, etc. It is usually for a short term. Once the person recovers, the Medical Power of Attorney is rescinded once the doctors are of the opinion the person is now capable of making their own medical decisions.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney can be also be used to transfer the power to make medical decisions for a specific time frame for minor children. Say your 14 year old has been invited out of the State to go with his friend, and his friend’s parents, to go snow skiing for 2 weeks. You should always prepare a Medical Power of Attorney that transfers the power to make medical decisions for your child to the friend’s parents during the time they are away.
This does not mean you won’t have any say so in the treatment – it just allows them to get the necessary, emergency treatment that may be needed in the event your child is injured and they need to make a quick decision regarding your child’s medical treatment.
A Living Will is a document, that is also called a “pull the plug” document. It means your family member has already made the decision as to whether they want to be kept alive artificially.
This document allows you to decide you DO want to be kept alive by artificial means as long as they can, or if you DO NOT want to be kept alive by artificial means and you are requesting they stop – or pull the plug – on the artificial means.
If you chose you do not wish to be kept alive it will only be considered after the medical providers are certain there is no way you can survive without artificial means. You will still be given all necessary pain medications to ensure you are not in any pain during this time and up until your death.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to handle your personal, and financial affairs such a paying your bills, paying insurance bills, etc. if you are incapacitated.
Making these 3 documents removes the stressful decisions that have to be made by family members in the event of a severe injury. The remaining family members can now be assured that you – and not them – have already made these decisions. Having these 3 documents prepared removes a tremendous burden from your family members.
You should also have made out a Will to allow for easy transfer of your assets. Other considerations are if you have children you need to decide who will take care of them, in the event both you and your spouse die within 90 days of each other, and if you want to set up a Trust to place their inheritance in so that your money can be properly administered for them.
I recommend that every adult have in place a signed Will, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will and a Disposition of Body.
A Disposition of Body is a document that lets your family and healthcare providers know how you want to dispose of your body upon your death.
My office can help with all of these documents.