Power of Attorney, Living Wills: Before a Crisis Strikes

The last thing you want to be doing at three in the morning when you are heading to the hospital to meet up with your frail mother-in-law, is wondering if anyone has signed a health care directive.  However, all too often, this is how the scenario unfolds, says Expert Click in the article “How to Get Power of Attorney for Aging Parents.

A medical power of attorney permits another individual to make medical decisions, when a person is unconscious or unable to make a medical decision. Other documents that are often completed in a hospital setting are the MOLST (Medical Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) or POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). This is also often the time the adult child is asked, if there is a living will.

Both the living will, and the medical and financial power of attorney documents should be created and executed well in advance of the emergency trip to the hospital. However, unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Planning for unexpected medical situations, by having the power of attorney and living will in place in advance is better. Even young people need these documents, since accidents happen.

The problem of having these documents for elderly people, is that they are sometimes resistant to having them created. You may need to have more than one discussion before they agree to complete the forms. While you are working on getting these documents for your parents, have them prepared for yourself and for your adult children.

No one plans to become sick, or to be in an accident. However, the reality is, even if we are lucky enough to avoid accidents or illness, we all age. By having these documents in place, we can be assured that when help is needed, decisions can be made by someone you choose.

The power of attorney and living will require more than just signing off on a piece of paper. They need to include the person’s understanding of what the documents mean, finding the right person to appoint and discussing the medical and financial desires of the person, so the power of attorney agent agrees to fulfill that person’s wishes and has no qualms about following their directions.

Sometimes the person named on these two important documents is not a family member, but a respected and trusted friend or even a professional. Family members are often overcome by emotion at the time of a medical crisis and are unable to make critical decisions. You know your family best: will they be able to act in a time of crisis? If not, you’ll want to name someone else in these documents.

These decisions should be done in conjunction with preparing a will, so the estate plan is in place. An estate planning attorney can take you and your family through the process and will be able to answer any questions you or your aging parent may have.

Reference: Expert Click (Feb. 12, 2019) “How to Get Power of Attorney for Aging Parents.