Kansas Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Preparing a legally enforceable will and durable power of attorney is a great start but your estate plan may not be finished yet.
Your future health care requirements are a major consideration and greatly affect both your wellbeing and your finances.
So, the person (or people) you choose as your financial power of attorney will need to understand how you intend to finance your health care and may need to coordinate with other loved ones when the time comes.
It is important, therefore, to plan for this now by creating the necessary documentation to enable decision-making for the right individuals.
A health care power of attorney (PoA) can avoid frustration and family disputes if you lose the capacity to make healthcare decisions for yourself.
What is advance care planning in Kansas?
Your health care choices as you age are numerous and varied. Not everyone wants the same things as they grow old or become incapacitated. You should be in control of making these decisions while you can.
Advance care planning is the process by which you clearly communicate your wishes to trusted individuals via legally enforceable documentation.
This usually takes considerable thought and reflection beforehand – and discussion with those closest to you as well as your health providers.
Your advance care planning decisions will be affected by many factors, including your beliefs and values, your general health condition, and your financial position.
Advance care planning documentation can include not only your wishes regarding medical care, treatment choices, aged care, and whether you want to have life-sustaining treatments if necessary but also your wishes regarding the disposal of your remains (organ donation, etc.)
Without being specific about these details, family members may be left unsure and having to recall conversations in the past or just do what they think is best. This frequently leads to confusion, frustration, disputes, and delays.
By putting your wishes in writing, you can share your wishes with your family, physician, health care agent, and attorney.
What is a durable power of attorney for health care?
A durable power of attorney for health care is an important part of most people’s advance acre planning.
This document enables you to appoint a health care “proxy” to make health care decisions for you if and when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
Think of it as a “safety net” in case you become mentally incapacitated in the future: another trusted individual is authorized to sign paperwork that allows your health care wishes to be carried out.
The authorized individual may also be required to consult with your caregivers and decide on a plan for your care in line with what you have previously communicated.
How is this different from an advance care directive?
An advance care directive or “living will” is another essential advance care planning document that details your health care wishes in later life.
While a health care power of attorney allows you to nominate a trusted person to make decisions for you (your “health care proxy”), a living will helps you be specific about those wishes.
Why do you need a health care power of attorney?
Without a health care power of attorney in place, there may be delays in medical care being administered and what is subsequently done may not be in line with your wishes.
In cases of emergency like when life-sustaining treatment is required, confusion and delays can be very costly.
Family members and caregivers may be left wondering who should be making decisions. This can be detrimental for everybody concerned, including you.
A legally enforceable health care power of attorney helps prevent these problems and brings greater peace of mind as you age.
In the absence of a power of attorney arrangement, the court may appoint a guardian to make decisions – but unless that person is aware of your wishes, the actions they take may be contrary to what you wanted.
How does a health care PoA differ from a regular PoA?
The health care power of attorney covers your medical and health care requirements. It does not cover how you finance them.
For someone to make financial decisions on your behalf and be able to access your savings, investments, and properties that may fund your care, a durable or enduring power of attorney is required.
The same “agent” may be chosen for both but, sometimes, this is not practical or desirable. However, choosing two individuals who do not get along well can complicate matters.
Selecting the same person for both can lead to fewer delays or conflicts when action is required.
Whatever you decide, separate documentation should be drawn up for each power of attorney as hospitals, health care providers, banks, pension funds, and so on will require different documents.
This is a tough subject. How do I start the discussion?
End-of-life care, medical power of attorneys, and advance care planning are often difficult subjects for families to discuss.
It can be tough to start considering a time when you are incapacitated and reliant upon others. However, it is a reality that we all have to address eventually and your loved ones will generally appreciate that you have their best interests at heart, as well as your own.
Sometimes, the process can be made easier with the support of an estate planning professional who is experienced at guiding families through these matters.
Call us at ITR Law in Topeka at 785 267 6115 if you need assistance with advance care planning.
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