If you have ever gone through a hospital admissions process, you’ve likely been asked if you have a living will (also known as a directive to physicians) and a medical power of attorney.
If you answer “no”, they may let it slide and not require you to produce one. Or, they may give you a pre-printed form to fill out. This way suffice for an emergency situation, but having an attorney review what you need for a living will and medical power of attorney is still preferable. The medical power of attorney is needed for many healthcare treatment providers.
You may still be asking yourself, “What are a living will and medical power of attorney? And why would I need them?”
What Is A Living Will?
A living will (or directive to physicians) is your personal expression of your wishes on whether you would be maintained by artificial life support in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or irreversible condition (it cannot be cured).
What Is A Medical Power of Attorney?
The medical power of attorney appoints a third person to act as your agent to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated. This could cover a whole range of treatment, including decisions that overlap with the living will.
For this reason, our office does a combination living will, medical power of attorney, and HIPAA release. The HIPAA release allows your agent access to all of your medical information so he or she can make informed decisions on your behalf.
Why Do I need A Medical Power of Attorney?
If you’re not capable of giving medical treatment instructions, you need someone who can speak for you. Often, a spouse is allowed to do this, but not always. If there is no spouse to express your wishes, the healthcare facility will require some authorization for a third person to speak on your behalf.
You would want the opportunity to appoint as your agent someone who has your health and welfare in mind, and knows your desires for healthcare treatment, not whoever may be the pushiest relative. Clients frequently tell me they have serious concerns about how one or more of their children would handle their healthcare, and it is not what they would want to have happen.
The medical power of attorney can specify who you do not want making healthcare decisions for you as well as who you do. Some people prefer to have more than one agent making these decisions (such as a spouse and kids, or more than one child if there is no spouse). They can do this either to spare family feelings or to make sure a balanced, thoughtful decision is made.
However, you should provide that a co-agent could act alone if an emergency situation arises and only one person can be reached to make an immediate decision.
Make sure your healthcare providers have copies of the living will, medical power of attorney, and HIPAA release.
How To Draw Up A Living Will And Medical Power of Attorney
If you are ready to discuss your living will and medical power of attorney needs, please contact Adair M. Buckner for a free initial consultation. Adair Buckner can guide you through your unique situation to provide you with a solid legal plan for your future as well as peace of mind for you and your loved ones.