KY Medical Power of Attorney Lawyers
There’s no doubt that wills are a fundamental part of estate law, but there are other documents that should be part of every estate plan to ensure that your wishes in every area of your life are known and followed.
While addressing financial concerns is important, nothing is more essential than health care. A medical power of attorney is a written tool for granting someone else the legal authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your health care. Planning ahead is critical for preventing your family from having to make difficult decisions without guidance.
The Fayette County health care power of attorney lawyers at Bunch & Brock are familiar with every aspect of medical directives. We are an estate planning firm committed to providing each of our clients with personal attention and real solutions. We take the time to fully understand your situation and discuss your options, helping you choose the right person for the position and the scope of his or her responsibility. We encourage you to contact our office by calling 859-254-5522 or filling out this online form and put our experience to work for you.
A health care power of attorney (also known as a medical power of attorney) is often confused with a living will. While they both allow you to select someone to make certain medical decisions on your behalf, they address different concerns. A living will communicates your wishes about life-prolonging measures in the event you are terminally ill or in a coma. For any situation other than an end-stage condition or permanent vegetative state, a health care power of attorney is required. A health care power of attorney is also not the same as a financial power of attorney and you can have one without having the other.
The person picked to make the decisions is called the “surrogate,” “proxy” or “agent.” Common choices are spouses, relatives or close friends. This designation is an important one and you should carefully consider whom you want to assume this responsibility. Maybe you have a good friend who is a medical professional whom you trust to make better informed health care judgments than your spouse or maybe you don’t want to burden your spouse with the weighty obligation of deciding your health care.
Generally, try to find someone who knows you well, can communicate with your family, is not afraid to ask questions of medical staff, and can handle a crisis. You also should feel comfortable sharing highly personal information with your surrogate. Be sure to convey your thoughts on quality-of-life issues because you cannot anticipate every possible scenario, and knowing your values and views on what makes life worth living is the best way to ensure that your agent will make the same decision that you would if you were able.
A health care power of attorney can be very broad, or it can limit the type of decisions the agent can make. Typical powers include:
- To give or deny consent for medical treatments (cannot conflict with provisions of living will if there is one)
- To decide what medical facilities you should go to
- To decide about organ and tissue donation
- Access to your medical records
- Visitation rights.
Selecting a second person to act as an alternate in case your initial choice is unable or unwilling to serve is also a good idea. Neither your primary proxy nor your alternate proxy needs to live in Kentucky, but they should at least be willing and able to travel here if you need them. To be effective, a medical power of attorney must be put in writing, signed, and witnessed. Keep the original in a safe place and give copies to the surrogate, the alternate surrogate, family members, and your doctors.
As long as you are capable of making and communicating your own decisions, your agent does not have any authority to get involved in your health care. All medical powers of attorney expire at the time of your death when your estate’s executor takes over. You can also execute a revocation form terminating the appointment of your health care agent at any time or draft a new one naming a replacement.
A medical power of attorney is a relatively simple, affordable instrument, and an essential piece of any estate plan. The experienced Lexington, Kentucky durable POA attorneys at Bunch & Brock understand that each estate plan must be as unique as the person it serves and we have worked hard to protect the best interests of hundreds of clients faced with the questions that concern you now. We are committed to providing our clients with a high level of personal service and we will walk you through each of the steps that must be taken. Whether you’re planning for your own future or for the future of a loved one, we can help. To schedule an initial consultation, please call 859-254-5522 or fill out this online form.