Unfortunately, there are instances where accidents or injuries occur, and a person cannot make medical decisions on their own behalf. An attorney-in-fact for a medical power of attorney will make important healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. The skilled Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you take care of this essential element of your estate plan.
You may have heard of medical power of attorney, a legal document that assigns medical decision-making power if you cannot make important medical decisions on your own, and the person to whom you give this responsibility is called the agent or the attorney-in-fact.
It can be a bit confusing because the attorney-in-fact for your medical power of attorney need not be an attorney (and most are not). When selecting the right attorney-in-fact for medical power of attorney, the primary concern is choosing someone you trust implicitly to make decisions that comport with your wishes and that are in your best interest. If you have questions or concerns about your medical power of attorney and about assigning an attorney in fact, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC the legal guidance you are looking for.
Attorney-in-Fact for Medical Power of Attorney
The attorney-in-fact whom you name for your Texas medical power of attorney (MPOA) is the person you choose to make specific medical decisions on your behalf if you are physically or mentally incapacitated and, therefore, unable to do so. This decision-making power is not without limitations. The attorney-in-fact for medical power of attorney’s decision-making power is subject to any conditions that you include in the legal document itself (your medical power of attorney) and subject to all applicable legal restrictions, including:
- Restrictions related to withdrawal of life support systems
- Restrictions related to withdrawal of food and fluids
- Restrictions related to medical treatments designed solely to maintain physical comfort
When the Agent’s Decision-Making Power Is Initiated
The attorney-in-fact for medical power of attorney does not have the power to swoop in and begin making decisions for you of their own accord. This authorization will come into play only if the situation is so significant that a doctor signs off on the need for a medical power of attorney (sometimes, more than one doctor’s input is required). Suppose the doctor in question determines that you can make your own medical decisions and speak for yourself. In that case, there will be no need for intervention from your attorney-in-fact, but if that doctor determines otherwise, your attorney-in-fact will be required to weigh in on your behalf. The kinds of medical conditions that can initiate this need include:
- Suffering a stroke or other brain injury that leads to coma
- Losing the ability to communicate due to dementia or another disease
- Suffering from a mental condition that is incapacitating
Matters related to your medical power of attorney are essential matters. The dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have the legal skill and knowledge to help you better understand what is involved and help you make the right choices.
Letting Your Loved Ones Know
Once you have a medical power of attorney in place and have designated your attorney-in-fact, it is important to notify all those people who may be involved in your care about the document’s existence and to provide them with a copy. Examples of critical recipients include:
- Critical family members
- Your doctor
- Your hospital
- Your attorney
The Authority Bestowed
The kinds of decisions your attorney-in-fact may be called upon to make include:
- Which medical treatments, including drug treatments, to pursue
- Which medical tests to run
- Which medical facilities to use and which medical professionals to consult
- How aggressively to treat brain damage, condition, or disease
- Which surgical options to pursue
- Whether to pursue treatments that are based solely on comfort and quality of life
- Whether to do everything possible to extend life
Choosing the Right Attorney-in-Fact for You
Common choices when it comes to attorney-in-fact include:
- Your spouse or significant other
- An adult child
- A close sibling
- A best friend
Ultimately, it is crucial to select someone you trust implicitly, but there is more to it than that. For example, suppose you have made the difficult decision that you do not want a breathing or feeding tube to keep you alive. In that case, a family member may find complying with this choice exceptionally difficult. If your personal medical decisions are going to be challenging for a family member to make, it can make your selection process more complicated. The attributes you are looking for in an attorney-in-fact, include:
- Someone willing to discuss your intentions related to your medical care with you, including addressing specific pertinent scenarios
- Someone who can put aside their feelings to honor that your wishes for specific medical options or procedures
- Someone who is capable of understanding your doctors’ medical explanations and is prepared to ask challenging questions if the need should arise
- Someone who is willing to read your living will and is capable of understanding the information therein
- Someone who understands your wishes related to end-of-life care and is prepared to act on them
The mechanism for designating your attorney-in-fact (the person who is up to all of these immense responsibilities) is the Texas Medical Power of Attorney Designation of Health Care Agent form.
An Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
Selecting the right attorney-in-fact for medical power of attorney is an important task, but it need not be daunting. Working closely with a focused Texas estate planning attorney will help you better understand the legal process, help you explore your options, and help you make choices that are right for you. Your medical power of attorney is a critical component of your estate plan that should not be overlooked. AtIbekwe Law, PLLC, our practice focuses on helping clients like you create medical powers of attorney that provide them with the peace of mind they are looking for. We are committed to helping you, too, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today for more information about selecting the right attorney-in-fact for your medical power of attorney.