Durable Power of Attorney vs. Medical Power of Attorney
It is a frightening prospect for anyone to think about: being too sick or too severely injured to speak on your own behalf, or to make your own medical decisions. However, it is possible for someone (who you appoint) to step into your shoes and become your voice for you when you cannot state your wishes.
It is crucial to make your wishes known explicitly in print before anything happens, so your doctors and caregivers are aware of them in the worst-case scenario. If your desires are not made explicit, medical doctors will take the steps they feel are best, even if they do not ethically align with your own.
What a Durable Power of Attorney Document Provides
Everyone over the age of 18 is entitled to the opportunity to request a document, known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, that expresses their own specific wishes should they become incapacitated or unable to advocate for themselves.
The Durable Power of Attorney document should be tailored to your wish- particularly those involving end of life. There are forms that can be filled out but those forms are not tailored to your individual needs and wishes and wishes. It provides individuals who you appoint with medical freedom and places the power in their hands, as opposed to their doctors’ or relatives’.
Medical Power of Attorney and What It Allows
If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney form, doctors will take the steps they feel are best—leaving you at the whims of their ethical choices and beliefs, which may differ from your own. Religious or ethical issues surrounding end-of-life care are highly complex and it is always a good idea to be prepared to advocate for yourself with a Durable Power of Attorney document.
Those of us in family law, often working on cases related to estate planning and end-of-life matters, have seen many circumstances where the lack of durable power of attorney was disastrous for families and individuals; an even more frightening scenario is a situation where a divorced person failed to modify their power of attorney on other estate planning documents so as to remove the ex-spouse from the document. Once you have become incapacitated or die it is too late to change the document. Should that occur, the ex-spouse could be the one making those decisions for you or collecting property from your estate.
It’s important to provide as much clarity as possible for our clients, as a lawyer in Grand Rapids who frequently assists adults in the area with these very personal and intimate medical documents. If you are over the age of 18 and have any questions about how to stand up for yourself in matters of life or death, please contact the Law Office of Beth Striegle.