Medical Power of Attorney

When dealing with end of life issues, four documents tend to come up time and time again: power of attorney, medical power of attorney, advance directive and DNR. Some people are living vibrant lives and do not expect that to change but they have these documents drawn up in the event that an accident leaves them in a situation where they cannot make their own decisions. Other people are facing a serious illness and have these documents drawn up while they still maintain their mental faculties in preparation for the time where they will not be able to express their wishes. Whichever the reasons, a family law attorney can help you to write up these documents.

What Power of Attorney Is

A power of attorney is a powerful legal document and a person must think carefully about naming someone as their power of attorney. This document allows another person to act on your behalf in financial and other matters. This person, in your stead, can enter contracts, make financial investment decisions and a variety of other things. They become, in a legal sense, your proxy. Although people usually name a family member as their power of attorney, you are free to name anyone you trust with a few exceptions. Your medical care provider, an employee of your medical care provider unless that person is a relative, a residential care provider or an employee of a residential care provider unless that person is a relative cannot be given medical power of attorney.

They do not have to be a relative but you must trust the person implicitly. A “family law attorney” can help you explore the various options available when drawing up a power of attorney. There can be limits placed inside this document. When the limits are geared toward only granting the trusted person the power to make medical decisions that is called a medical power of attorney.

What Medical Power of Attorney Is

A medical power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated. This document gives your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation, treatment options and prognosis with your trusted loved one so that your loved one may make sound medical decisions on your behalf. A “medical power of attorney” can be used to make sure your organs are donated to people awaiting transplants or are not donated depending upon your specific wishes. A medical power of attorney also enables a person to enforce an advance directive or a DNR.

DNR: Do Not Resuscitate

DNRs and advance directives often get confused but they are two different documents that cover two different situations. A family law attorney can help you to learn the difference between the two. Advance directives are geared toward long term care. Some people do not wish to be kept alive via artificial means if there is no hope of survival. An advance directive can stop or prevent artificial respiration and/or artificial feeding. When used with a medical power of attorney, you can be confident that a person you trust will be watching your medical caregivers to ensure your wishes are carried out. DNRs are used for emergency situations.

“DNR” stands for do not resuscitate. These orders are used when people do not want emergency treatment such as CPR. Most of the time, DNRs are carried by people with severe, long term or debilitating illnesses.

Who Wants a DNR

There are certain faiths that do not allow specific courses of medical treatment. If you are a follower of one of those faiths, a medical power of attorney, an advance directive and/or a DNR written up by a family law attorney can speak for you when you cannot speak. Doctors and other medical practitioners will not allow a viable patient to die when a course of action is available. However, doctors and other medical practitioners do not want to perform services that are contrary to a patient’s wants, needs or beliefs.

Medical Power of Attorney Expiration

A medical power of attorney generally does not come with an expiration date. A time limit can be included if so desired. Normally the medical power of attorney goes into effect after it is drafted and delivered to the person named in it. The power of that person to make a decision does not trump the patient’s decisions as long as the patient is mentally capable of making their own decisions. A physician must determine that a person is incapacitated before the powers granted in a medical power of attorney become active.

There are a few specific situations where a person acting as the proxy cannot make the decisions. A person cannot refuse comfort care on behalf of another person. A person cannot make the decision to have an abortion performed under the blanket of a medical power of attorney. Additionally, a person cannot use a medical power of attorney to have someone committed to a mental institution. Your “family law attorney” can inform you of additional limitations that come with a medical power of attorney.

You can revoke your medical power of attorney by telling your physician that you are revoking it. You may tell them orally or written though written notice is recommended. If you named your spouse as your medical power of attorney and then divorce your spouse. The power is revoked at the time of the divorce. If you have a medical power of attorney drawn up and then later have another one drawn up, the second will revoke the first one. A family law attorney can help you to understand the complexities of revoking one medical power of attorney in exchange for another.

Please call us today at 281-362-2865 or complete our contact form and let us assist you with your legal need.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
Serving The Woodlands, Spring, Houston, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Cypress, Huntsville, Cleveland, Stafford, Montgomery County, Harris County, West Oaks, Memorial, Sugar
Land, River Oaks, Alief, Stafford, Missouri City, and Southwest Houston Texas.