Powers of Attorney
Living wills and other advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you're terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.
Advance directives aren't just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it's important for all adults to prepare these documents.
By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf.
A health care power of attorney is a type of advance directive in which you name a person to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so.
The person who you choose to make decisions on your behalf is called your health care surrogate.
Choosing a person to act as your health care agent is important. Even if you have other legal documents regarding your care, not all situations can be anticipated and some situations will require someone to make a judgment about your likely care wishes. You should choose a person who meets the following criteria:
The person you name may be a spouse, other family member, friend, or member of a faith community. You may also choose one or more alternates in case the person you chose is unable to fulfill the role.
A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.
In determining your wishes, think about your values. Consider how important it is to you to be independent and self-sufficient, and identify what circumstances might make you feel like your life is not worth living. Would you want treatment to extend your life in any situation? All situations? Would you want treatment only if a cure is possible?
You should address a number of possible end-of-life care decisions in your living will. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about any of the following medical decisions:
You don't need to have an advance directive or living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders. To establish DNR or DNI orders, tell your doctor about your preferences. He or she will write the orders and put them in your medical record.
Even if you already have a living will that includes your preferences regarding resuscitation and intubation, it is still a good idea to establish DNR or DNI orders each time you are admitted to a new hospital or health care facility.
Advance directives need to be in writing and signed by two witness.
Review your Advance Directive with your lawyer, your doctor, and your health care surrogate to be sure you have filled out forms correctly. When you have completed your documents, you should consider doing the following:
You can change your directive at any time. If you want to make changes, you should create a new form, distribute new copies, and destroy all old copies. Your lawyer will ensure that you are properly revoking your past form.
You should discuss changes with your primary care doctor and make sure a new directive replaces an old directive in your medical file. New directives must also be added to medical charts in a hospital or nursing home. Also, talk to your lawyer, health care surrogate, family and friends about changes you have made.
Consider reviewing your directives and creating new ones in the following situations:
At the Gupta Law Firm, we can evaluate available benefits, help maintain or obtain benefit eligibility, and design a plan that promotes independence and increases quality of life for you or your loved one. We may also be able to identify additional untapped resources that are available to meet your needs. We can help to ensure that you or your loved one is protected from unintended consequences after in the future.
When coordinating care for an individual with disabilities, many public benefits questions arise. Should you seek Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for her so she will become Medicare-eligible? What about creating a Medicare set-aside? What if the individual with disabilities receives needs-based benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Is coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) a better or even an available option? How should her funds be managed from a financial perspective? Is a trust appropriate? There are no easy answers to these questions. At the Gupta Law Firm, we can help you navigate the terrain and advise you on your options.