Health Care Decisions without Medical Power of Attorney:
If a person is unable to make decisions about personal medical care, some other person must provide direction in decision making. Many people create a medical power of attorney in advance of any anticipated physical problems. A power of attorney allows them to appoint an agent or representative to manage their affairs when they become unable to do so themselves. However, if there is no medical power of attorney in place and no judicially appointed tutor or curator, then health care professionals usually rely on the next of kin or even a close friend as the decision maker.
What happens if there is no medical power of attorney?
Being able to make health care decisions for ourselves is so important to us, but what happens if you become incapacitated? If you don’t have a health care power of attorney in place, state law chooses who can make those decisions. La. R.S. 40:1159.4 provides the order of priority of who may make medical decisions in the absence of a power of attorney or court order:
- Spouse, not judicially separated;
- An adult child;
- Any parent;
- Other ascendants or descendants;
- An adult friend.
Any one of the above persons in that order of priority can make medical decisions if there is no person in a prior class who is reasonably available, willing, and competent to act. What this means is that medical providers will first look to a spouse to make health care decisions. If there is no spouse or he or she is unavailable or unwilling, then the medical providers will look to an adult child and so forth.
A power of attorney is a designated decision-maker:
The best way to avoid the state choosing who acts for you is to have a health care or medical power of attorney in place. A health care power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to act as your agent for medical decisions. By executing a health care power of attorney, you are authorizing your representative to carry out your wishes. Medical providers will defer to the person named in the document to act on your behalf.
A power of attorney is also an invaluable instrument for family members and relatives. It provides for a definite decision-making process and allows a trusted person to make those decisions rather than a relative that you do not trust. It is a vital estate planning tool that every person should consider completing prior to actually needing one.
Louisiana estate planning attorneys:
We are a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980. Our experienced estate planning lawyers can quickly prepare the documents necessary to make sure someone you trust is making your medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated and cannot decide yourself. We take pride in offering a personal and trusted experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.