A big concern for many people is who will make medical decisions on their behalf if they become unable to due to their incapacity. It is important to execute an Advance Directive to clearly state your desires concerning your health care and designate, the person who should have the authority to make your health care decisions when needed. Advance directives include,
but are not limited to, the designation of a health care surrogate, a living will, or an anatomical gift. The following information briefly summarizes the different decision-makers and documents:
HEALTH CARE SURROGATE: A
ny competent adult expressly designated by you to make health care decisions and to receive health information. The surrogate is appointed in a written document signed by you in the presence of two subscribing adult witnesses. The September Elder Care Spotlight will feature more specific information on health care surrogates.
LIVING WILL: A
ny competent adult may, at any time, make a living will or written declaration and direct the providing, withholding, or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures in the event that such person has a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state. A living will must be signed by the principal in the presence of two subscribing witnesses, one of whom is neither a spouse nor a blood relative of the principal.
HEALTH CARE PROXY:If an incapacitated or developmentally disabled person has not executed an advance directive or designated a surrogate to execute an advance directive, or the designated or alternate surrogate is no longer available to make health care decisions, then health care decisions may be made for the patient by certain individuals. The law establishes a hierarchy of priority as follows: legal guardian, spouse, adult child (or majority of children who are reasonably available), parent, etc.
A qualified Elder Law Attorney can help ensure that your Advance Directives are consistent with your wishes and compliant with the current law.
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