Prominent cases in the news have publicized the trauma, confusion, and expense that can befall a family when someone fails to provide complete instructions regarding medical treatment. A living will may not anticipate all the situations where decisions need to be made, and it does not dictate who will decide. However, a durable medical power of attorney does.
The durable medical power of attorney allows you to legally specify the person you want to make critical decisions regarding your health care and well-being if you become incapable of making and communicating these decisions for yourself. This person should be someone you trust to make informed choices about health care matters based on your life views and religious or philosophical beliefs.
When the patient does not have a durable medical power of attorney, health care providers may be unclear or conflicted about the appropriate level of care to render, such as whether or not to resuscitate a patient in cardiac arrest. The absence of a durable medical power of attorney can also result in an inappropriate conservatorship or guardianship that could frustrate the patient's family and that might not meet the patient's wishes.
A durable medical power of attorney can help ensure that your wishes are carried out by someone you trust to perform this duty. Consult an experienced lawyer to include this legal document in your estate plan.