topic | life planning - medical directives
Step 1: create a medical power of attorney
The first directive, commonly called a Medical Power of Attorney, assigns an agent, who will act on behalf of an incapacitated patient. The patient can authorize the agent to act on healthcare responsibilities such as:
- Providing medical decisions that are not covered elsewhere
- Enforcing healthcare wishes in court
- Hiring and releasing doctors, and medical staff
- Having access to medical records
- Having visitation rights
Medical Powers of Attorney are state specific. In some states (such as Michigan), this Medical Power of Attorney document is called a Patient Advocate Designation and should also be used to specify wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatment. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website provides samples for each state:
Review the sample Medical Power of Attorney for your state, and consider agent selection and any limitations to be placed on that responsibility.
There are two steps required to complete this activity:
- Fill in the sample form obtained in Activity 1, where possible.
- Seek the advice of an estate attorney to complete and activate the state specific Medical Power of Attorney.
Review plans with the family physician who can explain the logic in the statements prepared (i.e. does suspending one type of treatment yet allow another, make sense?).
The completed document should be securely stored and copies distributed to others, such as the executor. An estate attorney can provide guidance.
(if this Step is complete)
to Step 2
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