What you don’t know can hurt you.
Of the most important estate planning documents that all adults over the age of 18 should have, the Healthcare Power of Attorney (also known as an Advance Medical Directive or “AMD”) is the one most misunderstood.
While none of us wants to consider a time where we may find ourselves incapacitated, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is used to designate a trusted “Agent” to make medical-related decisions on your behalf.
Why is this important?
Should you develop an illness that includes a high fever and cannot rationally direct your own medical care; your Agent can act on your behalf.
Consider if you were involved in a car accident and were to lapse into a coma, your Agent can make medical-related decisions on your behalf.
Another common example are persons who may develop Alzheimer’s disease, which causes one to experience a gradual cognitive decline. At what point will you be unable to make your own medical decisions?
One common myth is that your spouse, partner, parent, or other loved one will automatically have the legal authority to interact with your medical professionals when a situation arises. This line of thinking does not square with reality.
Incapacitation does not discriminate
While many assume that estate planning (which includes the creation of a Power of Attorney and Medical Directive) is primarily for seniors, this flawed thinking can come at a great price – both figuratively and literally.
First, we cannot foresee what lies ahead. Consider the Coronavirus. Who could have anticipated a global pandemic and how or when one may be affected? For those whom are severely affected by this illness, treatment may include being placed on a ventilator. With that, if one cannot speak and thus cannot make their wishes known, having a legally appointed Agent can be of utmost importance during such a crisis.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance that every adult over the age of 18 have a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Should you become incapacitated, require medical treatment, and do not have a Healthcare Power of Attorney, life just became more complicated. Now, a guardianship action may need to be filed. This is a formal court procedure, which appoints someone to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. This process can be lengthy and costly, much more so than taking the preventative approach of preparing a Healthcare Power of Attorney document.
During these uncertain times, it is important to consider taking a simple action that will protect you and your loved ones, in the event of a medical crisis.
If the above information speaks to you, reach out today if we may be of service. We wish only good things for you and your loved ones, especially during these trying times.