Medical Issues And Power Of Attorney
Anything can happen and as much as we want to plan our day, we cannot really foresee the future. So what happens when we suddenly figure in an accident? Who will be at hand to take care of our business dealings and other personal issues? Can power of attorney fix things?
The lack of an appointed person to take care of the legal matters when one is dying often becomes a problem because no one anticipates this happening. And who can blame them? Nobody would want to go morbid and prepare for something like dying from an illness. Death is easier because the will (as in the last will and testament) will take care of the legal matters post-mortem but dying is another thing altogether. This is especially true with people who are gravely injured and cannot make decisions for themselves like for instance when they are under comatose or when they cannot speak, move or are invalid.
Power of attorney is one of the ways that you can appoint a representative for you should something happen to you. Although power of attorneys are often given for a specific period of time, some principals, or those who are giving the power of attorney, can extend the contract until something happens to them like when they become terminally ill or when they become gravely injured. This however should be plainly stated on the contract for the power of attorney. Otherwise, it will be deemed invalid by the court.
The principal can also choose to appoint an agent or the attorney in fact (the person to whom the power of attorney is given to) to be his or her representative when they become ill. Some, in fact, appoint people to act on their stead while they are in the hospital and to make any medical decisions in their stead like when they need to pull the plug in case of a comatose. This is what is often called the “Health Care Power of Attorney,” which empowers the attorney in fact to make health care decisions for the principal or the grantor, even something as sensitive as terminating the hospital care in cases when machines are the only one keeping them alive.
It includes the power to give consent or to refuse a medical procedure for the grantor. In some states like in New York, this is a requirement. A separate document is needed as stated by the Health Care Proxy Law by the State of New York, appointing your health care agent so to speak. Medical hospitals will not honor the provisions stated in the living will. It can state the medical wishes of the person but it does not appoint anyone from making the decisions for them.
For people with mental illness, they can prepare the Psychiatric Advance Directives or PADs, which grants the proxy to dictate psychiatric care for the patient as they cannot make the decisions for themselves with regards to their wellbeing.
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