Advance Directives

Health Care Proxies Explained

Health Care Proxies Explained

Once an individual has selected an individual to be his/her health care representative, the necessary legal documents must be obtained and completed. Thankfully, the necessary forms for appointing health care proxies can be found online, free of charge. Notaries and attorneys are not necessary when completing these forms, but in most states the document must be signed in the presence of two individuals over the age of eighteen.

The laws regarding health care proxies and witnesses vary by state, so it is essential to review the laws specific to one’s own state. An individual may wish to detail the medical treatment and procedures that he/she wishes to accept and refuse on the document, in order to ensure that his/her wishes are followed. An individual may also wish to create a living will for this purpose.

If an individual wishes to revoke the authority that has been granted to a proxy, he/she may do this at any time. Due to the relative ease of appointing a health care proxy and the protection that it may offer ill and deteriorating individuals, it may be advantageous for an individual to give weight to this legal document.

Elder Guardianship Guide

Elder Guardianship Guide

Often, people experience debilitating illness before they are able to appoint a health care proxy or a durable power of attorney. This may leave no single authority with the power to make decisions regarding his/her finances, property, and health care. Family members and close friends may argue over various important aspects of an individual’s affairs. If an individual wishes to obtain responsibility for an incapable person, he/she may choose to petition the court for elder guardianship.
When an individual obtains elder guardianship, he/she will be responsible for overseeing his/her elderly ward’s finances, property and health care. He/she may be required to write checks and utilize the ward’s funds to benefit the ward’s well-being. An individual granted elder guardianship may also be required to make decisions regarding important medical treatment and procedures. For example, a legal guardian may have to decide whether or not to begin or end life support, as well as whether or not a medical professional should attempt resuscitation.
Elder guardianship is often a difficult and upsetting responsibility. However, if an individual obtains legal guardianship over a loved one, he/she will have the ability to ensure that the patient’s wishes and desires are preserved.
In order to obtain elder guardianship over an individual, a petitioner will be required to file paperwork with a local court. Generally, a petitioner will be required to provide evidence that the ward is not capable of effectively handling his/her own affairs.
A hearing will be held, in which a judge will determine whether or not the ward is in need of a guardian, and whether the petitioner would make an appropriate guardian. If a judge approves the petition, the petitioner will receive rights to govern decisions regarding the ward’s finances and health care.
If the judge decides that the ward requires a guardian, but the petitioner is not an acceptable option, then the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an individual that is appointed by a judge to manage the affairs of a dependent individual for a short period of time.
Generally, a guardian ad litem will only remain an individual’s guardian until a suitable legal guardian can be appointed. In other instances, a guardian ad litem may be instated to oversee only certain affairs or aspects of an individual’s life. For example, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to manage his/her finances and not his/her health care.
This legal authority will also carefully review a case to assist a judge in determining whether or not a petitioner would be a successful legal guardian. Legal guardians and guardians ad litem are essential in ensuring that helpless elder individuals are provided with appropriate care and are not subjected to exploitation, neglect, or abuse.
The obligations inherent in elder guardianship are often arduous and difficult. However, legal guardians can be comforted by the knowledge that they have done their best to improve the life of another individual. 

Purpose of Durable Power of Attorney

Purpose of Durable Power of Attorney

As an individual ages, he/she may choose to take certain measures to ensure that his/her wishes are upheld by medical professionals. He/she may choose to create a living will, in which he/she will have the ability to detail the types of life support that he/she approves of, and what procedures he/she does not want conducted. Likewise, an individual may choose to sign a Do Not Resuscitate order, directing doctors and paramedics not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of respiratory failure or cardiac arrest
 Another precaution that an individual may choose to take is instating a durable power of attorney. When an individual assigns a durable power of attorney, he/she is giving another individual shared power over decisions regarding his/her health care, finances, and property. As long as an individual remains alert and mentally able, a durable power of attorney will be required to adhere to his/her wishes and commands.
For example, if an elderly individual needs to obtain money from a bank, a durable power of attorney can attain the funds and deliver them to him/her. However, if the ward remains healthy, the appointed individual will not be permitted to make decisions regarding his/her health care or assets without his/her consent.
Unlike a general power of attorney, a durable power of attorney has the ability to make decisions for an individual in the event that he/she enters a vegetative state, becomes unresponsive, or is incapacitated in a way that prohibits him/her from effectively making decisions. When appointing a durable power of attorney, an individual has the ability to specify what aspects of his/her life that attorney will govern.
An individual can appoint a durable power of attorney for healthcare, finances, or property. If an individual chooses to specify the responsibilities of a power of attorney in this matter, he/she may appoint one person to oversee his/her healthcare and another to assume responsibility for his/her property and financial funds.
A durable financial power of attorney may be responsible for cashing checks, withdrawing and utilizing financial funds, and selling his/her property. On the other hand, a durable power of attorney for healthcare will be obligated to ensure that an individual’s wishes are upheld by medical professionals in the event that he/she is unable to speak for himself/herself. A durable power of attorney for healthcare is often required to make difficult and upsetting decisions, such as when to discontinue life support.
If an individual has not established a living will or a DNR order, a durable power of attorney for healthcare will be required to convey the individual’s desires. If he/she does not wish to be resuscitated or be put on life support, the appointed attorney must inform the medical officials thus. Therefore, it is essential for an individual to select someone they trust when appointing a durable power of attorney for healthcare. 

Your Background on Advance Directive

Your Background on Advance Directive

In most cases, advances in modern medical technology are
considered to be beneficial to society. However, these procedures are often
utilized to prolong the lives of terminally ill and individuals and patients in
a comatose or vegetative state. As such, advances in health care technology
have caused many people to seek advance directives in order to ensure that
their wishes regarding health care treatment and procedures are upheld. If an
individual does not possess an advance directive, it is likely that he/she will
be subjected to resuscitation and life support techniques in the event that
he/she experiences cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, or any other form of
life-threatening complication. These techniques and procedures are often
painful and expensive. They generally only succeed in prolonging life for a
short time, not curing illness or comforting a patient. Tens of thousands of
patients are kept alive in a vegetative state, with very little or no chance of
recovery. This increases the emotional and financial burden faced by family
members. Indeed, it may be very difficult for an individual’s family to
determine the proper course of action, and this may cause them to experience
guilt and remorse, especially when they are forced to make a decision regarding
the discontinuation of life support. 


It is therefore important for an individual to make
his/her beliefs on these matters known. This can be accomplished through advance
directives. Advance directives are legal documents representing the wishes of
an individual in regard to medical treatment and procedures. If an individual
becomes comatose or otherwise unresponsive due to terminal illness or
deterioration, an advance directive will inform family and medical professionals
of his/her wishes. Advance directives have various different uses. For example,
an advance directive may indicate whether or not an individual wishes to be resuscitated
in the event of respiratory or cardiac
failure. These documents may also display his/her feelings about life support
techniques, including the use feeding tubes, catheters, and pacemakers. If an
individual does not wish to be kept on life support, this too can be stated in
a living will
. An advance directive will also provide an
individual with the ability to appoint a health care proxy
and a durable power of attorney. These authorities will be given the power to
make decisions regarding an individual’s health care in the event that he/she
is unable to speak for himself/herself.

Establishing advance directives is the best method of ensuring that family
members and medical authorities are aware of one’s wishes regarding medical
treatment. It is important for an individual to review his/her state laws
regarding the use of an advance directive, as the governing rules and
regulations vary a great deal by state. It is also important to understand that
these are legally binding contracts. In most cases, the conditions that are
outlined in an advance directive must be adhered to. Therefore, it is
essential for an individual to thoroughly and completely consider everything
included in these documents. If an individual fails to establish advance
directives, a court may appoint a guardian to oversee his/her medical treatment
and financial affairs, and to ensure that all decisions that are made are in
the “best interests” of the patient, but this does not guarantee an
individual’s true wishes will be acknowledged. 


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