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Planning for medical care in case of incapacitation

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Estate Planning

A comprehensive estate plan is critical for all adults, but this plan should go far beyond just outlining plans for the creator’s assets. One thing that should be set into the plan is how medical care decisions will be made if the creator is incapacitated. 

There are two primary things that an estate plan creator needs to take care of this matter. The medical power of attorney (POA) gives someone permission to make healthcare decisions for the creator. The advance directive provides written instructions about some points related to medical decisions.  

Role of a medical POA

Medical decisions during critical times can be stressful and emotionally charged for family members. A medical POA alleviates some of this burden by appointing a specific person to make decisions, thus avoiding disagreements and providing clarity on the principal’s desires.

Without a medical POA, family members may need to go through a lengthy and costly court process to obtain the authority to make healthcare decisions. The medical POA eliminates the need for court intervention to streamline the decision-making process and ensure medical care is not delayed.

Purpose of an advance directive

The advance directive details an individual’s preferences for medical treatment if they become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It can include instructions on the use of life-sustaining measures such as mechanical ventilation, feeding tubes and resuscitation. 

If a person doesn’t want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) needs to have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. This is typically included in a medical POA and must be clearly communicated to healthcare providers.

These documents are only one small part of a comprehensive estate plan. Working with someone familiar with these matters is critical to ensure everything in the estate plan is set in a legally enforceable way.