Every day in a hospital near you, a patient is non-responsive or near death and unable to make decisions for themselves. And often, there is confusion about the patient’s wishes because they never communicated their desires or nominated a decision maker. Sadly, this confusion can lead to ugly family fights. This leaves the patient in a legal gray area that is not only difficult to navigate but can lead to expensive Court fights If you’re married, your spouse will have the power in most places to make healthcare decisions. However, you still need to inform them of your preferences before becoming ill.

Living Wills

A living will sounds similar to the final will and testament but it is fundamentally different. Living wills are also called directives to physicians or advance directives. They are essentially directions to a doctor and medical staff about how you would like to be treated if you were not able to articulate your desires while in the hospital. Medical decisions are frequently legal decisions that carry the responsibilities required of entering contracts. If you are not competent to enter a legal contract, then you’re likely not competent to make medical decisions. That’s why it’s so important to have a living will.

The living will is your chance to let your family know what you would like to happen. They are often paired with durable power of attorney forms.

Durable Power of Attorney

Some jurisdictions might call it something different but durable power of attorney is an authority given to someone to make decisions on your behalf. What makes them “durable” is that the power continues even if you lose capacity. Power of attorney determinations can be narrow or broad. If you are looking to just allow someone to make decisions based on healthcare while you are incapacitated, you can have the agreement written that way. In other cases, you might want someone to have complete, or limited, control over your finances and your businesses as well.

For example, if you are placed under anesthesia for surgery, you might grant medical power of attorney to someone in the event that something goes awry. However, if you run a business, you might also give them, or someone else, the power to make business decisions. You can and probably should have more than one power of attorney.

Make Early Decisions

All of these decisions have to be made before you are incapacitated. If you have a scheduled surgery, then you know the date before which you have to make a decision. Accidents cannot be anticipated, though; that’s why it’s important to clear all of this up as soon as possible. Call an attorney who has experience with these types of documents for advice. In Boise, call McCool Law and schedule a free consultation. 208-963-8100.