Too often, doctors are left hanging, waiting for the closest living family members to agree on a decision regarding a serious medical condition.
Even if you are in good standing with your family members, they still may not truly know what you would want if you became incapacitated.
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If you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident or old age and don’t name someone you trust to oversee your care, these vital issues may end up in the hands of estranged family members, your doctors or even judges who know very little about you and what your true desires are. You have likely always been the one to make the important decisions in your life. But there may come a time when you are unable to voice them in important ways – such as decisions about your medical care. Drafting a Health Care Power of Attorney enables you to choose someone close to you to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to communicate them yourself. The document protects your wishes and prevents them from being changed.
What does a Health Care Power of Attorney do?
The Health Care Power of Attorney documents go hand in hand with a living will. They ensure your health care decisions are made by the exact person or people you choose, so your doctors know who to turn to for a decision.
The person or persons you appoint to carry out your Health Care Power of Attorney document – known as your “health care agent” – is someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. Your doctors are legally bound to follow the legitimate orders of your health care proxy even if your next of kin disagrees with the decision.
What doesn’t a Health Care Power of Attorney do?
Sign away your rights
When you draft a Health Care Power of Attorney, you’re not signing away your rights to make decisions for yourself. As long as you’re competent and able to communicate your wishes, you make your own decisions. Only once you are incapacitated (by a coma, for example) and incapable of making decisions yourself does your Health Care Power of Attorney take effect.
Become nullified by your spouse or partner and close family
If you have a Health Care Power of Attorney, your spouse or partner and close family members do not have the authority to veto your health care decisions just because they are related to you. North Carolina state laws protect your interests and decisions. However, if you have no Health Care Power of Attorney, your spouse or partner, adult children, parents and siblings may all fight among themselves to decide the medical decisions that will be made for you.
Relieve you from paying your medical bills
Drafting a Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to make decisions for yourself regarding your own medical treatment while you are able to articulate those decisions. However, you are still the one who will be responsible for paying for that treatment. Many state-approved Health Care Power of Attorney forms specifically release your health care agent from any liability – financially or legally – for the decisions he or she makes on your behalf. Your Health Care Power of Attorney agent will make decisions for you the way you would make them for yourself, but he or she does not have to pay the bill for them.
The attorneys at Wilson, Reives & Silverman have extensive knowledge of North Carolina laws and are here to provide you with trusted, effective legal counsel.