Health Care Agents & Their Role in Estate Planning
As we all know, competent adults are free to make their own health care decisions. Unfortunately, there are times when people become incapable of making their own health care decisions and these decisions must be made for them. When this occurs, the person who is incapable of making their own health care decisions is considered to be suffering from an incapacity.
In some cases, incapacities can be predicted, such as in the case of an individual with a progressive sickness or disease. In other cases, however, they come unexpectedly, such as during an accident
When one is suffering from an incapacity, it is important that the incapacitated person have someone who can make medical decisions on their behalf. Equally important is that the person given authority to act on behalf of the incapacitated person have full HIPPA authority to discuss decisions with your treating physicians regarding your health.
A Health Care Agent is a person designated to make another’s health care decisions if that person becomes incapacitated. The estate planning lawyers at Kocian Law Group can help you choose a Health Care Agent and help you to complete necessary legal documentation to accomplish your goals.
Why do I need a Health Care Agent?
Appointing a Health Care Agent can ensure that, should you become incapacitated, the person you prefer to direct your health care is legally able to do so. You will need to appoint the person most familiar with your health care preferences and decisions, as this person will make those decisions on your behalf while you are unable to make them yourself.
If you have no Health Care Agent appointed when you become incapacitated, a court may appoint one for you. You will have no say in who is appointed, and the court may choose someone of whom you do not approve. For these reasons, it is important that those caring for you know who to turn to for direction when you are incapacitated.
Isn’t my Living Will enough?
Appointing a Health Care Agent is not the same as creating a “Living Will” or “Health Care Instruction”. A Living Will or Health Care Instruction only gives medical providers and medical facilities ultimate instructions regarding what life support or palliative care, if any, you desire if your medical condition is deemed terminal or if you are determined to be permanently unconscious.
Appointing a Health Care Agent permits designated individual(s) to make medical decisions for you whenever you are incapacitated, even if you are expected to recover. It is not necessary for your condition to be terminal or for you to be permanently unconscious for the Health Care Agent to make medical decisions for you. The Health Care Agent may also make decisions related to life support or palliative care, whether or not you are permanently unconscious.
Thus, please contact us to have your Health Care Agent appointed so that you can ensure that your wishes will be followed if you ever become incapacitated.