Advance Directives and Power of Attorney

Dec 17, 2013

Many people worry about what could happen to them if they suffered a medical emergency or became incapacitated. Luckily, most states recognize the need to plan for future incapacity with planning tools referred to as advance directives.

Advance Directives

Advance directives can include durable powers of attorney for financial matters or health care, and “do not hospitalize” or “do not resuscitate” orders. With these tools, people can direct one or more persons to make certain health care and financial decisions in the event of their incapacity. States have different requirements so it is important to understand what documents are needed to create valid advance directives. Contact an experienced attorney for help executing powers of attorney and advance directives that comply with your state’s laws.

Durable Power of Attorney

Seniors can use a durable power of attorney to ensure that their finances and property are properly managed in the event of incapacity. In most states, durable powers of attorney can be drafted to take effect immediately or upon a certain condition (commonly referred to as a “springing power of attorney”), such as incapacity or medical emergency. Principals can designate the powers that their agents can exercise. For example, the agent may have the power to write a check from one of the principal’s accounts, but not to make financial transactions from another account. Other powers could include the power to sell property or enter into contracts.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney is another planning tool that allows competent persons to make written decisions in advance about medical treatment and designate an agent to carry out their wishes should they become incapacitated. Almost all states recognize a health care power of attorney, although it may be called an advance directive or living will depending on the state.

Most states have laws that spell out the requirements that are necessary for health care powers of attorney and what is needed for one to come into effect. Generally, a determination of medical incapacity by a doctor is required before the agent may exercise his or her powers under the document. Since there may be circumstances when a person is unable to make health care decisions on his or her own but may not meet the medical definition of incapacitated, it is important for long-term health plans to take this into consideration.

Once you have made the important decision to create an advance directive or power of attorney, contact the Houston Law Office of Christina Lesher. She can explain your state’s requirements and help you draft documents that will best meet your long-term care needs.

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