Do I Need a Lawyer to Prepare a Medical Power of Attorney?

Many of us have not given any thought to what would happen in the event we suffered from a medical emergency and were unable to speak for ourselves or make our own medical decisions. In such an unfortunate circumstance, you will need someone to make decisions regarding what is best for you and to advocate on your behalf with your medical providers. Despite being a difficult topic to think about, let alone discuss, a great many of us will eventually find ourselves in such a situation, and therefore planning ahead for such a thing is more than prudent. You may be wondering though, “Can I make a plan myself or do I need a lawyer to prepare a Medical Power of Attorney?”

Your Estate Plan should include advance medical directives

An advance medical directive called a Medical Power of Attorney or, in some states, a Health Care Proxy is a legal document in which you may appoint a person to make your medical decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to do so. By planning ahead and including advance medical directives in your estate plan, you can prevent heartache for your loved ones. They might otherwise be left without any inkling about the type of care you would or would not like to receive and who you feel would best make decisions in line with your wishes.

A Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney will work together to carry out your wishes

Your Medical Power of Attorney will work in conjunction with another advance directive called a Living Will. Your Living Will contains details about your wishes for your medical care, including any end of life care you wish to receive or perhaps more importantly, not receive. While your Living Will should be as detailed as possible, it will never be able to cover every circumstance or eventuality. A Medical Power of Attorney is necessary to empower another person to make decisions surrounding circumstances you either did not anticipate or your Living Will did not cover. You should also find comfort in the fact that no matter who you name in your Medical Power of Attorney, they cannot contradict any express wishes outlined in your Living Will.

How can my estate planning attorney help me achieve my goals?

While every person’s situation is unique, you may find that you will benefit from consulting with an attorney in the preparation and execution of your advance medical directives, including your Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney will be well-versed in who may execute a Power of Attorney (generally anyone with mental capacity over the age of 18) and the legal requirements for proper execution. A good attorney will also be able to provide advice about what types of instructions your Living Will should contain after having a conversation about your feelings on end of life care and whether or not you would like to receive artificial nutrition, hydration and respiration, under what circumstances and for how long. Your attorney will also help you decide who is the best person to designate as agent in your Medical Power of Attorney. They will advise you to consider geographic proximity to the person under consideration, whether or not you hold similar values, and how good they are under pressure. They will also urge you to consider coming up with a backup person in the event your first choice agent is unavailable when the time comes for them to act.

The attorneys at Dana and Associates are experienced in the law regarding advance medical directives. They will walk you through these difficult decisions with sensitivity and care as part of your comprehensive and custom estate plan.