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William Entrikin received the worst possible new. His father, who was 82 at the time, yet in good health, accidentally fell down the flight of stairs that led to the basement. Fred Entrikin landed on the basement floor head first. William’s mother asked her youngest son to meet her at the hospital, where the elder Entrikin had fallen into a coma. The prognosis of surviving the fall was remote at best. William’s father had significant bleeding inside of his the brain and even if he survived, his quality of life would have been poor.
Mrs. Entrikin had to make an end-of-life care decision, because she held the health care power of attorney for her husband.
Health Care Planning is Crucial
The discussion of making health care decisions for an incapacitated loved one can be very uncomfortable. After all, most of us like to live under the “Glass is half full” model that refuses to admit there are worst case medical scenarios. Obviously, William’s father encountered one such worst case scenario. However, the difficulty of the discussion about end-of-life care must be conducted long before a worst case health care scenario unfolds. If you do not plan for the worst, you might experience costly, unrequested medical procedures, some of which go directly against your principles. A health care power of attorney document not only clearly designates the person responsible for making decisions for the incapacitated, it also clearly states the wishes of those unable to communicate what they want done. The lack of a well-written health care power of attorney drafted by a licensed attorney prevents family members from ending up in ugly disputes that tear the fabric of a family apart.
Health Care Power of Attorney vs. Living Will
A health care power of attorney and living will represent two legal documents that clearly express medical care preferences and more important, instructions on how to proceed with medical issues for a loved one. The two documents communicate the health care wishes of someone who is unable to communicate his or her wishes. A living will states health care wishes that include avoiding unwanted treatments. Health care power of attorney documents go a legal step further by granting someone the immense responsibility of making an end-of-life decision. Also called an agent, the person who has the legal right to end someone’s life is typically a close family member and most likely a spouse or significant other.
Which Health Care Legal Document Works Best for You
A living will provides detailed instructions about medical and end-of-life instructions that medical care professional must follow under the law. Living wills do not grant another person the legal right to make medical and end-of-life decisions. Therefore, a health care power of attorney ensures your medical wishes are placed in someone’s hands that you trust. You do not have to worry about an unscrupulous nurse or doctor failing to follow your health care instructions. You can also provide clear health care instructions for the person you designate to carry out your health care power of attorney. The more detailed your health care power of attorney document, the more likely your designee follows your medical care wishes.
State laws vary when it comes to the scope of health care power of attorney. Some states mandate strict legal guidelines that require the services of an attorney who specializes in creating health care power of attorney documents. Schedule a free consultation today to get the ball rolling to draft your health care power of attorney.