A power of attorney, or POA, gives the person whom you designate (called your agent) the power to make specific decisions for you on such things as the power to mortgage, sell, or dispose of any real or personal property without advance notice to you or approval by you.

You can also grant your power of attorney to make banking decisions and life insurance, business insurance, claims and litigation, personal relationships and affairs, taxes and much more.

There are two types one that takes effect immediately called a durable power of attorney, and one called a springing power of attorney which only comes into play once an event occurs usually when a doctor deems one mentally incapable of making decisions on there own.

You should take a look at those who are close to you and whom you feel would use the power to look out for your financial issues and not be susceptible to taking advantage of their power. Maybe you have a child or close friend who is an accountant by trade or runs a business.

Hospitals are a difficult and maddening maze to traverse. You see, the elderly have it particularly difficult in a hospital environment. Confusion will set in for most elderly patients: confusion as to what ails them, unfamiliar hospital staff, new environments, foods that may not agree with them, new drugs that may have problematic side effects, and even language barriers.

Having a properly executed patient advocate can help alleviate these issues and make sure that health professionals carry out your wishes if your are incapacitate or unable to communicate your wishes.
Questions you should ask yourself include: 1. Whom do I want to make decisions about my health care? 2. Is quality of life more important than quantity of life? 3. How important is physical and/or mental functioning in decisions to accept, refuse, or limit medical treatment? 4. What are my spiritual beliefs and how do they fit with my choices? 5. Are food and water basic human rights, regardless of delivery (tube, mouth, or vein)?
If you have questions about patient advocates you should talk to your doctor.

Both a power of attorney and patient advocate can grant powers to people close to you whom you wish to speak on your behalf. If you have a long term domestic partner but for whatever reasons you have not married, a power of attorney and patient advocate can grant that special person family like powers they would have without these documents under the law to help protect your health and finances. It also helps deal with fights that your children and siblings may have trying to ascertain your wishes on your healthcare.

Many people wait until it is too late to get these documents in place and families are then forced to open up a guardianship and/or a conservatorship. Sometimes a persons wishes about who makes the decisions and what guidance or parameters are in place to guide those people. This goes for young people who seem indestructible but a head on collision with a car can cause you to be incapable of making your wishes known.

A few years ago there was a case that made the national news when a young lady was incapacitated and a fight over her condition was played out on the nightly news. In that case the poor young woman did not have a patient advocate to declare how her condiiton should be dealt with and a fight in the media was played out between the husband and the young woman’s family. If there had been a proper patient advocate in place, all the issues between the husband and family could have been solved in the probate court.

More than finances in my practice as a lawyer, I have seen deciding who makes health decisions for mom and/or dad destroy families and cause unneeded stress and acrimony during difficult times. Take the time to reach out to different resources in your community and put these documents and plans in place before it is too late.


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