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Life or Death Decisions: Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Life or Death Decisions: Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Life or Death Decisions: Healthcare Powers of Attorney By Amy A. Edwards Using a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA), you may designate an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You must be legally competent to sign the HCPOA, but it remains in effect even if you later become legally incompetent. When is the HCPOA Triggered? The HCPOA becomes effective when an adult “lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate decisions relating to [his or her] health care.” [1] You can choose the physician(s) that you trust to determine whether you are unable to make or communicate your healthcare decisions. The Agent’s Authority Your Health Care Agent makes decisions based on what you direct in your HCPOA. The default is to allow your agent to make any and all medical decisions for you. But it is your job to set any limits, restrictions, requirements or special conditions. Like any fiduciary, a trusted person given the ability to act on someone’s behalf, the agent must act in good faith when carrying out your instructions. Setting Limits in Your HCPOA General Health Care Decisions. Choose whether your agent has access to your medical records, can hire and fire medical providers, and the right to place you in, or release you from, a hospital or other facility, such as assisted living or nursing home. Mental Health Care. Authorize or prevent certain mental health treatment, such as psychoactive medications or shock treatment. Consider whether the agent can admit you to, or keep you in, a mental health facility, and if so, your preferred facility. The state can always keep you in a facility based on civil commitment laws, for example danger to yourself or others. Life Prolonging Measures. This is your right to a natural death. [2] Choose whether to allow or withhold life prolonging measures, such as a mechanical ventilator, artificial nutrition (i.e., feeding tube) or artificial hydration. Most people want “reasonable steps to keep me as clean, comfortable, and free of pain as possible so that my dignity is maintained, even though this care may hasten my death.” You can say that some/no life prolonging measures will be given in the following situations, described in that statute: An incurable or irreversible condition that will result in your death within a relatively short period of time; or You become unconscious and, to a high degree of medical certainty, will never regain consciousness; or You suffer from advanced dementia or...

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New: Links For Senior Citizen Resources

New: Links For Senior Citizen Resources

Links For Senior Citizen Resources Great Overview Sites: Good starting point and overview is the Senior Citizens Handbook: Laws and Programs Affecting Senior Citizens in NC (The Young Lawyers Division of the NC Bar Association)  See also the National Caregivers Library Other Good Sites: • AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)  • See our law firm Pinterest board for caregiving • Tips For Extended or Frequent Hospital Visits • Eldercare Directory of Federal Gov’t Programs for Seniors, including reverse mortgages • Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIP) for NC • Social Security Medicare Benefits • Social Security Retirement Benefits • Library of Congress Resources for Senior Citizens and Their Families • Pitt County Council on Aging Services – and Pitt County “Resource Guide For Older Adults“ • NC Department of Justice: Help for ID theft • NC Dept. of Aging and Adult Services Assistance (scroll to the bottom)...

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