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Care planning: health-care-related durable powers of attorney

One thing it can be very important for seniors to plan for is future medical care. Many people, during the course of their old age, end up having significant care needs and having major medical decisions arise in relation to their care.

Part of care planning is planning for the costs of future medical care. Another part is planning for what will happen if you are no longer able to make your own medical decisions. Sometimes, an elderly individual ends up developing a medical condition that takes always their decision-making abilities.

There are legal documents that individuals can set up to dictate what will happen if such a loss of decision-making ability occurs to them. These documents are called advance directives. There are two main kinds of advance directives. Over this post and the next, we will go over each of these two types. Today's post will be focused on durable powers of attorney for health care.  

Typically, in a health-care-related durable power of attorney, a person names who they want to be the person to make health care decisions for them in the event that they are no longer able to make such decisions themselves.

The decision of who to name in such a legal document is not one to be taken lightly. Medical decisions can have great impacts on a person, and thus it is very important for the person one names in a health-care-related durable power of attorney to be one that they trust. Thus, decisions regarding who to name in a durable power of attorney for health care are ones that are generally best not made on a whim, but rather after careful thought and discussion.

Washington seniors who are looking into setting up a durable power of attorney for health care as part of their care planning may have many questions regarding the process of getting such a document in place and what effects such a document will have. Elder law attorneys can help such individuals with such questions and assist them with getting a health-care-related durable power of attorney set up. 

Source: Washington State Medical Association, "Advance Directives," Accessed Dec. 2, 2014

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