Although it may be tempting to put off planning for oneai??i??s future incapacity, the process of developing a plan so that your financial affairs and medical decisions are handled properly is extreme important. If you do not prepare legal documents that provide guidelines for medical providers and financial institutions or designate someone to act as your agent, these decisions may be left up to the discretion of government bureaucrats or health care providers without any understanding of your wishes on intentions regarding acceptable forms of extraordinary medical procedures or personal financial plans.
Many people delay these decisions because they presume that most cases of mental incapacity involve conditions related to advance age, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, cancer and HIV can strike those as young as their 30s or 40s. Further, almost 100,000 people per year suffer a traumatic brain injury that results in some permanent disability. Injuries that result in short-term or prolonged incapacity may be caused by a wide range of causes including motor vehicle accidents, job related injuries, violent crimes and more. The experienced Oklahoma incapacity planning attorneys at the Family Lawyers Group have provided an overview of the essential documents that you need to protect your interest if you are incapacitated.
Health Care Power of Attorney: This is a fundamental incapacity planning document that permits you to appoint someone to act as your proxy for making critical medical decisions if you become incapacitated. All medical procedures involve risks, which makes it important to have someone you trust to evaluate these risks against the medical benefits. The person you appoint should be someone you trust to exercise discretion consistent with your intentions regarding surgical procedures, extraordinary life-sustaining measures and other medical decisions.
Financial Power of Attorney: While a health-care power of attorney designates an agent for purposes of health-care decisions, a financial power of attorney is designed to protect your financial affairs if you suffer an incapacitating injury or illness. A durable power of attorney may become effective on a particular date or upon your incapacity but remains effective if you are incapacitated. The power of attorney can grant broad powers to manage investment accounts, buy and sell real property, execute contracts, pay liabilities or be narrowly confined to handle only specific transactions or financial matters.
A financial power of attorney may even be limited to simply allow someone to execute a specific contract on a given day. Generally, a durable power of attorney will grant broader powers than this because you are appointing someone to manage your financial affairs during a period of incapacity but you should discuss the appropriate scope of powers and authority to be granted with an Oklahoma estate planning attorney.
Advance Directive for Health Care: Many commonly refer to this document as a living will. The purpose of this legal document is to direct medical providers to comply with your wishes regarding extraordinary end-of-life medical care. An advanced health care directive will often delineate your desires regarding DNR orders, artificial respiration and similar artificial life sustaining measures.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) Authorization: This law protects your provide medical information from disclosure to others without your consent. A HIPPA Authorization permits medical professionals and hospitals to share medical records with the person you authorize. The obvious choices may include a spouse, other family member or attorney.