A durable power of attorney health care is something that many people consider in case of incapacity. Incapacity can occur at any moment due to an accident that leaves you badly injured and unable to communicate. A serious illness that affects you physically or mentally may also result in an inability to make decisions or communicate them on your own. When you cannot make your own medical care choices, you need to have a plan in place to determine what care you receive and who decides on treatment for you.
A Rutland, Vermont incapacity planning lawyer can offer you invaluable assistance in determining how best to protect your autonomy in case you become unable to make your own medical decisions. By planning in advance, you can ensure your loved ones know what kinds of care you want under what circumstances. You can also ensure that a person who you trust decides the types of treatments that are appropriate in situations you have not specifically addressed in your advance plan.
Understanding the Rules for a Durable Power of Attorney Healthcare
Incapacity often renders you unable to make decisions on your health and unable to manage your financial affairs and assets. As a result, your incapacity plan should include a power of attorney to give someone authority to manage investments and other assets.
A general power of attorney for financial affairs, however, does not provide an agent with the authority to make your health care decisions. Instead, to ensure you have control over health care choices in the event of incapacity, you will need to create an advanced directive or a healthcare power of attorney.
As the Vermont Department of Health explains, a Vermont Advanced Directive “is a written document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the future, including if you are no longer able to make those decisions.”
Vermont.gov has a long form on its website which may be used to create an advanced directive. As part of your advanced directive, you should not only specify what kinds of medical care you do – and do not- wish to receive but you should also name an agent who can make medical decisions you have not addressed and that you cannot make on your own.
Your agent has to be at least 18 and should be someone that you trust fully. You may not appoint a doctor or any healthcare provider as your agent, and nursing home residents cannot appoint nursing home staff or owners as agents, unless they are related to the resident. Alternate and co-agents can be appointed in situations where you want to specify a secondary agent if the first person you choose cannot act for you, and co-agents can work together to make decisions on your behalf.
When you create an advanced directive and name someone to act as your agent for making healthcare choices, you can determine when the agent’s authority goes into effect. You can give the agent authority immediately upon signing the advanced directive if you specify this is your preference.
You can also grant authority only in situations where you no longer have the capacity to make decisions on your own. This could be because you are unconscious and cannot communicate, or when a specified condition is met, such as a diagnosis of a mental illness or Alzheimer’s. Finally, you could specify a specific event which will mark the start of the agent’s authority, such as admission to a nursing home facility.
If you regain capacity to make and communicate your own decisions, the agent’s authority will generally end, unless you have specified you would like the advanced directive to remain in effect for longer.
The creation of an advanced directive and the naming of a healthcare proxy are some of the most important things you can do to protect your autonomy and maintain control of your quality of life, no matter what happens. Without a plan in place, your family could end up fighting over care options, and you could get care you do not want. Don’t wait until it is too late and you’ve put your family in a bad situation- create your plan today.
A Rutland Incapacity Planning Lawyer Can Help
To learn more about durable power of attorney healthcare or about other aspects of incapacity planning, join us for a free seminar. You may also wish to contact Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC to get personalized advice that is tailored to your situation. You can give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online today so we can get started on protecting your future.