Why You Need A Living Will And Medical Power Of Attorney

Posted by: Adair M. Buckner

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 may 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. 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?" In this blog and the video below, I address these questions and other concerns many people have regarding their living Will and power of attorney.

What Is A Living Will & A Medical Power Of Attorney?

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).

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. 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 treatments, including decisions that overlap with the Living Will.

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.

elderly woman meeting with other woman

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.

Get A Free Consultation

*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)

** This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, specific tax, legal, or accounting advice. We can only give specific advice upon consulting directly with you and reviewing your exact situation.


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