Downs Law Firm, P.C.

Health Care Documents

C19 UPDATE: Do Your Health Care Documents Now

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In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to have your legal, financial and medical ducks in a row. Sadly, when serious illness strikes it is usually quite rapid and often unexpected. In these times, however, we do have forewarning that we are all at risk of contracting COVID-19, the coronavirus.

If you have not yet signed a Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney, referred to as Health Care Documents,  do them now. Stop procrastinating and get this crucial planning in place now.

What are Health Care Documents?

A Living Will is essentially a pull the plug statement- “I don’t want to live on machines.” A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document you use to give someone else the authority to make medical decisions for you when you can no longer make them yourself.  This person, also known as a health care agent, can only exercise this power if your doctor says you are unable to make key decisions yourself.

Other Terms for Health Care Documents

Depending on the state where you live, the Health Care Power of Attorney may be called something else. You may have seen this referred to as a medical power of attorney, an advance directive, advance health care directive, a durable power of attorney for health care, etc. There are many variations, but they all mean fundamentally the same thing.

Be aware that each state has their own laws about Health Care Powers of Attorney, so it’s important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure your decisions will be enforced through legally binding documents. Also, some states may not honor documents from other states, so even if you made these decisions and created documents in another state, it’s wise to review with an estate attorney to ensure they are legally valid in your state now.

There are many formats for this document. We provide several choices. The Maryland Attorney General’s office has a brochure with one alternative valid format. http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Health%20Policy%20Documents/adirective.pdf

In the current situation, being done is far more important than being perfect.

What Can My Health Care Agent Do for Me?

Just like there are many different terms for the medical power of attorney, there also are different terms for the medical agent – this person may be referred to as an attorney-in-fact, a health proxy, or surrogate.

Some of the things the Health Care documents authorize your agent to decide for you:

  • Which doctors or facilities to work with and whether to change
  • Give consent for additional testing or treatment
  • How aggressively to treat
  • Whether to disconnect life support

We are ready to help walk you through these decisions, understand the ramifications of your choices, and memorialize your plans in binding legal documents. We are currently offering no-contact initial conferences remotely if you prefer. Book a call now and let us help you make the right choices for yourself and your loved ones.

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