Incapacity planning is essential to make sure someone can make healthcare decisions for you, and that person knows what kinds of healthcare you want to receive. Incapacity planning is also important because you want to ensure your financial affairs are properly managed should something happen to you.
You need to create a plan for incapacity before you become injured or ill. A power of attorney should be part of this plan for many different reasons. Parman & Easterday can help you determine if you need a power of attorney and can assist you in the formal legal process of creating a power of attorney and naming someone to act as your agent. To get help today, give our Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys a call.
Why A Power of Attorney is Essential for Incapacity Planning
Title 58 of the Oklahoma Code addresses probate procedures and establishes rules for powers of attorney. When a power of attorney is created, you can give your agent authority to handle both financial and medical issues on your behalf. You can give your agent complete or limited authority over health care decisions. If you want the agent to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment, you must comply with the Oklahoma requirements for a health care proxy.
You need to create a power of attorney and follow the requirements for a healthcare proxy to ensure you do not get medical care you do not want. Oklahoma statutes create a presumption that care should be provided. For example:
- Title 63 O.S. §3131.1 establishes the presumption that everyone has consented to be resuscitated in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest; however, this presumption can be overcome with an advanced directive, with a Do Not Resuscitate, or when a healthcare proxy makes a decision not to resuscitate.
- Title 63 O.S. §3080.1, establishes a presumption that every patient who is incompetent will want to receive sufficient hydration and nutrition to sustain life. However, there are also some limited exceptions to this as well, including when there is an advanced directive in place or when two physicians determine administered hydration and nutrition would be impossible or would cause severe pain. If two physicians determine you are in the final states of a terminal illness and death is imminent, administered hydration and nutrition may also be withhold, except in circumstances where you would die of dehydration or starvation.
If you do not want to get this care under these circumstances, you must opt out of the presumptive rule. You do this by creating an advanced directive. It is imperative that your loved ones and medical care providers know you have created an advanced directive and made medical decisions in advance. The Oklahoma Bar Association recommends you provide copies of your advanced directive to your family members; your doctor; your attorney; and both your healthcare proxy and alternate healthcare proxy. A copy should be kept with your important personal papers and you should make extra copies and bring them with you when you are admitted to the hospital or see any medical providers for the first time. We also recommend you register these documents with a registry service to be sure they are always available. We can assist with this, as well.
Unfortunately, even with an advanced directive or living will a situation could arise where a decision needs to be made about medical care you have not addressed. This is when it becomes so important to have a power of attorney as part of your incapacity plan. The agent you chose when you created your power of attorney will have the authority to decide on your care–especially if you’ve followed the requirements for creation of a healthcare proxy. There will be no question about who the physician should turn to if you cannot make decisions on your own.
While a focus on healthcare choices is one of the single most important reasons a power of attorney should be part of your incapacity plan, you also want to make sure someone can manage your assets as well. When you name an agent and create a general durable power of attorney, the agent can take care of managing money and property; paying bills; signing contracts; selling investments; and doing everything necessary to manage your property.
An Oklahoma City Incapacity Planning Lawyer Can Help Create a Power of Attorney
You need to know who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Creating a power of attorney is the best way to do this since you name the agent (or agents) who will make healthcare decisions and manage your assets. To learn more and get the help you need, give us a call today at (405) 703-9987 or contact us online to speak with an Oklahoma City incapacity planning lawyer.