Surrogate decision making
If you are ever incapacitated due to a serious accident, stroke or other disabling event, you will need someone to step in and handle your affairs. Your “agent” will need legal authority to manage your finances and make health care decisions for you until such time as you regain capacity and are once again able to make decisions for yourself.
Durable Power of Attorney
By signing a Power of Attorney, you authorize a person of your choosing to manage your property and handle your finances in the event of incapacity. Your Power of Attorney can be broadly or narrowly drafted. Thus, you can authorize your agent to handle a single transaction. Alternatively, you can grant wide-ranging authority to handle virtually any transaction that becomes necessary while you are incapacitated. You can, for instance, authorize your agent to access your bank accounts, pay your bills, collect your income, attend to tax matters and manage your real estate. Your Power of Attorney should be tailored to your needs, with clauses specific to your circumstances. At the Law Office of Barbara R. Miller, we can draft an individualized Power of Attorney that meets your needs and achieves your objectives. If you become incapacitated and do not have a valid Power of Attorney, a court may appoint a guardian and/or conservator to manage your affairs.
Advance Medical Directives
You have the right to decide for yourself whether you want specific medical treatments. This fundamental right applies to treatments that extend your life, like feeding tubes and breathing machines. Tragically, an accident or advanced illness can take away a person’s ability to make health care decisions for himself or herself. But decisions still have to be made. If you cannot do so, someone else will. The decisions that are made should reflect your values and priorities.
At the Law Office of Barbara R. Miller, we can assist you with preparation of an Advance Medical Directive. A Directive can be used to name a health care agent. This is someone you trust to make health care decisions for you. An Advance Directive can also be used to express your preferences about treatments that may be used to sustain your life in extreme circumstances. Thus, if you are ever terminally ill and close to death, you may wish to be permitted to die naturally, without being placed on life support. On the other hand, you may want your doctors to do everything possible to extend your life, even if your prognosis is bleak. Whatever your preferences, you should express them in writing. This statement regarding your preferences for medical treatment at the end of life is sometimes referred to as a “Living Will.” The Living Will constitutes the second part of your Advance Medical Directive. We can assist in crafting a statement that expresses your preferences regarding the medical treatment you wish to receive under specified circumstances.