Medical Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation
A medical durable power of attorney and patient advocate designation is a legal document that gives another person the legal authority to act as your patient advocate in regard to your own health care decisions. When you grant a trusted person that authority by completing the power of attorney document, you ensure that your wishes can be carried out. The person or persons you name in this document may be required to make decisions on your behalf at a very stressful time. Therefore, you should select your agent carefully and discuss your wishes with that person to ensure that he or she will be able to carry out your wishes. As with any legal document, you should consult with legal counsel to ensure that the document addresses all of your personal concerns and wishes.
Living Will Provisions
Living will provisions are included in the medical durable power and do not affect your property, but they are an important part of planning for the future. A living will provision (advance directive) — lets you describe the type and extent of medical treatment that you prefer. These instructions are invoked if you are unable to make those preferences known in the future.
For example, if you were severely injured in a car accident, you might be in a coma with no apparent prospects for recovery. Would you want your doctors to do everything possible to keep you alive? Would you prefer minimal, non-invasive treatment? These are extremely difficult decisions, and they require reflection on your most deeply held philosophical and religious beliefs. The purpose of living will provisions is to make your intentions known, so that your family and your doctors will be able to lawfully act in accordance with your wishes.
Situations Other Than “Life or Death”
Medical durable powers of attorney are generally invoked in “life or death” situations. However, people face related challenges even when their life is not in danger. People who are unconscious, e.g., are clearly unable to make their treatment preferences known, but that does not mean that they don’t have preferences. For this reason, many people now prepare a medical durable power of attorney and patient advocate designation.
One of the biggest problems with most medical durable powers of attorney and patient advocate designations is simply that they cannot be found when needed. For that reason, you should discuss the issue with members of your family and be sure to store your documents in an accessible location. You may even want to provide a copy to family members as well as to your doctor, along with your medical records.