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Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care

It is estimated that nearly four million Americans suffer some form of mental dementia, most commonly Alzheimer's Disease. That figure is expected to triple by 2050. With the onset of dementia comes the growing need for assistance with such common daily tasks as dressing and feeding oneself, administering to even modest financial matters, and providing for one's own medical care. If you have a loved one who has difficulty making sound financial and lifestyle decisions, contact an experienced elder law attorney to discuss the possibility of establishing a guardianship or conservatorship to aid your loved ones.

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Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care

Many people worry about what could happen to them if they suffered a medical emergency or became incapacitated. Luckily, most states recognize the need to plan for future incapacity with planning tools referred to as advance directives. Advance directives can include durable powers of attorney for financial matters or health care, and "do not hospitalize" or "do not resuscitate" orders. With these tools, people can direct one or more persons to make certain health care and financial decisions in the event of their incapacity. States have different requirements so it is important to understand what documents are needed to create valid advance directives. Contact The Elder & Disability Law Center in Washington, DC, for help executing powers of attorney and advance directives that comply with your state's laws.

Durable powers of attorney

Seniors can use a durable power of attorney to ensure that their finances and property are properly managed in the event of incapacity. In most states, durable powers of attorney can be drafted to take effect immediately or upon a certain condition (commonly referred to as a "springing power of attorney"), such as incapacity or medical emergency. Principals can designate the powers that their agents can exercise. For example, the agent may have the power to write a check from one of the principal's accounts, but not to make financial transactions from another account. Other powers could include the power to sell property or enter into contracts.

Health care powers of attorney

A health care power of attorney is another planning tool that allows competent persons to make written decisions in advance about medical treatment and designate an agent to carry out their wishes should they become incapacitated. Almost all states recognize a health care power of attorney, although it may be called an advance directive or living will depending on the state.

Most states have laws that spell out the requirements that are necessary for health care powers of attorney and what is needed for one to come into effect. Generally, a determination of medical incapacity by a doctor is required before the agent may exercise his or her powers under the document. Since there may be circumstances when a person is unable to make health care decisions on his or her own but may not meet the medical definition of incapacitated, it is important for long-term health plans to take this into consideration.

Speak to an elder law attorney

Once you have made the important decision to create an advance directive or power of attorney, contact an experienced elder law attorney from The Elder & Disability Law Center in Washington, DC. He or she can explain your state's requirements and help you draft documents that will best meet your long-term care needs.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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