Who Makes Medical Decisions If You Are Incapacitated?

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We all hope to stay healthy and happy, but sometimes tragedy strikes. If you should ever need someone to make medical decisions for you, don’t just hope that it is someone you trust. Go ahead and make a plan now, just in case the unexpected happens. Who makes medical decisions if you are incapacitated? 

YOU make the decisions if you’ve made advance directives such as a Living Will, a healthcare power of attorney, and a durable general power of attorney

Let’s look at the options for making the hard decisions before you are forced to.

Advance Directives

If you have a living will in place, you have already chosen what doctors and nurses should do in case of your incapacitation. This legal document is your directive about what happens when you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. You set forth what kinds of medical treatment you would like to have in this situation. You also state which types of medical care are not acceptable for your body. 

A Living Will can include a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). This is a statement that medical personnel should not attempt to use treatments to revive you if you die. 

A Living Will can also include whether you would accept respiration machines to help you breathe, feeding tubes to help you eat, and any dialysis support. It can also include other medical directives as you choose to include them.

Having an advance directive is important for your healthcare so that doctors and relatives know what you desire. No family member or loved one wants to argue with another about what is best for you. By stating your intentions for your healthcare, you also save your family worry and guilt over whether they are making the best decisions for you.

Power Of Attorney For Healthcare (Medical Power Of Attorney)

While an advanced directive is crucial should you become incapacitated, it is also important to draw up a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This person becomes in charge of making any medical decisions for you that are not covered in your advance directives.

Should you need surgery that you did not expressly cover in your living will, the durable power of attorney for healthcare is the person who will make that decision for you. 

It is important to choose someone you trust implicitly and feel comfortable discussing your medical issues with. Your advance directives may need updates fairly often if you are struggling with a chronic terminal condition. You should be able to discuss if you change your mind and expect that this person will support your decisions unconditionally whether they agree with you or not. Their job is to uphold your healthcare standards for you when you can no longer do so yourself. They are speaking for you when your voice is gone.

Updates for Living Wills are necessary because often patients change their minds about procedures as time goes on. Your level of acceptance of procedures may change after you have been through them once. Your attitudes and thoughts about what you expect from this life may also change. 

Power Of Attorney

A general power of attorney lets someone make decisions for you while you are alive and well. However, their powers of attorney end if you become incapacitated. 

A durable general power of attorney is active even if you become incapacitated. This appointed person can make a wide range of financial and legal decisions for you even after you become incapacitated. 

This means that if you have a business to run or a household of children to take care of, your durable general power of attorney can sign the needed documents to keep everything running smoothly until your return to health.

You can state your legal, business, and personal needs so that your durable general power of attorney knows just what to do should you ever need them to step into your shoes.

Make A Plan Today

With a quick trip to an attorney to discuss end-of-life planning, you can draw up these important documents just in case tragedy strikes in your life. All of us face death at some point, but some of us sooner than others. We never know for whom the bell tolls, so getting ahead of what could happen is just smart. 

Find Help

At Vail Gardner Law, we work with the terminally ill to make compassionate plans for the end of life. We also know that no matter your age or health condition, you are not promised tomorrow and a good plan for your healthcare can make all the difference for how you are treated should the unexpected happen. End-of-life planning is also a gift to your family and loved ones so that they know that they are making the best decisions for you should something happen and you can no longer make them yourself. We would love to help you make your plan.