Power of Attorney and Living Wills
Two primary documents that help ensure an individual’s access to their desired healthcare outcome are Power of Attorney (POA) and Living Will. These written documents allow an individual to appoint external help to make legal, financial, and healthcare decisions on one’s behalf.
A Living Will, or health care directive is separate from the conventional Will that determines the inheritance of assets and properties.
A Living Will document focuses on healthcare preferences, medical treatment, and health-related concerns in the event of an individual’s inability to make decisions for themselves. Some scenarios typically covered in a living Will include comfort and pain medicine, breathing and feeding machines, and organ and tissue donation.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders
Power of attorney is not just appointed in financial planning cases, but also in matters of personal care. There may also be considerations in place for the individual’s specific wishes regarding their resuscitation.
These instructions come in the form of special formalities that an individual must complete in filling a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. A physician, registered nurse, or registered practical nurse must sign the DNR – this helps inform emergency responders whether or not they should take action when faced with the need to resuscitate.
Issues surrounding DNRs are complicated, often requiring legal guidance for those working on their Wills and estate plans. A lawyer can draw up a Living Will and assist in preparing such complex documents while being mindful of all the legalities of the State when helping their client with estate planning issues.
How a Power of Attorney is Different from a Guardian
Both guardians and the power of attorney assist and act in the stead of a beneficiary should they become incapacitated. The primary difference is that when an adult becomes incapable of making decisions, the court appoints a guardian or a conservator to the individual.
On the other hand, an individual may themself appoint a power of attorney to act on their behalf for financial purposes. One may limit a power of attorney to a particular transaction or grant complete control over legal, financial, and healthcare decisions.
State laws typically only impose guardianship or conservatorship when less restrictive alternatives—such as power of attorney—have already been proven ineffective.
To ensure the individuals get the proper document, estate planning attorneys help plan health care directives and ensure that it is better customized to specific needs. HeirSearch supports estate planning attorneys to help plan health care directives for clients.
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