Nobody likes to think about the possibility of one day becoming incapacitated, but it happens far more often than most people realize. In the event this happens to you, you will be unable to convey your wishes about what type of medical care you prefer to receive and under which circumstances you might want to receive it. Drafting a medical power of attorney today can protect you and your future tomorrow, establishing your healthcare wishes and entrusting the right person to make necessary medical decisions.
What Is a Medical Power of Attorney?
A medical power of attorney (also known in Michigan as a durable power of attorney for healthcare) is a document outlining what steps you want medical professionals to take if an illness or injury prevents you from speaking for yourself. In addition to addressing your medical wishes in every eventuality, you will also nominate a patient advocate. This person is a trusted individual who signs the document and agrees to communicate your wishes to your medical team.
What Happens If I Do Not Have a Medical Power of Attorney?
If you become incapacitated without a durable power of attorney for healthcare in place, the courts may need to appoint a patient advocate to make decisions for you. In many cases, they will choose your spouse, a sibling, or a child based solely on their familial relationship with you. Because the court does not know you, your relationship with your family members, or your decisions, the decision-making power might fall to someone you are no longer close with, or someone you might not have chosen because they tend to get too emotional in stressful situations. In either case, your medical team will not be aware of your healthcare wishes.
What Are the Limitations of a Medical Power of Attorney?
A medical power of attorney has a few limitations. For example, your patient advocate cannot make decisions that go against your religious beliefs or fundamental values. Furthermore, the document does not empower them to make financial decisions if you are incapacitated for an extended time. As such, you should also consider creating a financial power of attorney to ensure you fulfill all your financial obligations in such a situation.
How Do I Make a Medical Power of Attorney?
While you could draft your own document, the safer bet is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can help you consider worst-case health scenarios and articulate your wishes carefully so your advocate understands your priorities. They can also ensure that the document meets all requirements to make it binding and enforceable.
Once you finalize and notarize the documents with your signature, the signature of your chosen advocate, and the signatures of two witnesses, be sure to provide copies to all your healthcare providers. You will also want to give copies to close family members so they understand your choices. This ensures your priorities remain transparent no matter what happens. While thinking about serious illness can feel morbid, taking control of your healthcare future will bring you peace of mind.
Contact an Experienced Michigan Estate Planning Attorney
Knowing how to approach the decision-making process regarding end-of-life and medical care can stir up a lot of anxiety. However, working with an experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer can give you the clarity and confidence you need as you outline your wishes. The seasoned legal team at Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC, can help you cover all your bases when you set up your medical power of attorney, giving you the peace of mind that you deserve.
Contact a member of our team today for a free consultation to learn more about how our Michigan estate planning lawyers can help you.