What Is An Advanced Healthcare Directive And Should Everyone Have One?
So the advanced healthcare directives that my office handles are the powers of attorney documents. In the state of Ohio, we have a durable power of attorney for your finances. We also provide the healthcare power of attorney and a living will. So, what’s excellent about the powers of attorneys is I call them living documents. You sign them today, and they’re good today. With your power of attorney, it’s essential to get what the client’s goals are. We talk to the client about their goals. You name the agents that act on your behalf, and you name a backup agent just in case your first agent doesn’t want to do it, or something happens.
So, the financial power of attorney is just like your will. Your will can say whatever you want to say, and so can your durable power of attorney. You can say whatever you want to say for your finances, you can put a limit on it, and you can put expiration dates on it. We have a catchall financial power of attorney that gives attorneys full authority over their finances to their agent or can limit the power. So it’s whatever the client’s goals and wishes are.
For the medical power of attorney, the authority is more limited as to the power that we can give the agent, but we name your first agent and then name a backup agent. But with the healthcare power of attorney, we can provide the agent the authority to help manage and make medical decisions when you’re not able to.
If you do not have a power of attorney and you’re not able to make decisions on your own or take care of yourself, we have to go to the probate court and file for a guardianship. So what’s good about power of attorney is they’re good today. We don’t need a court to tell us whether they’re valid or not. You sign them today, and they’re good today, versus a guardianship that is a probate case that has to be filed with the court, we have to get all of the next-of-kin served. If there’s a problem, we have to have a hearing on it, so now you have court costs and attorney’s fees. It is a legal process that is very timely, and it can get expensive if the family members are not getting along.
So, what’s great about a power of attorney is the person making it can name whomever they want to name, and they can revoke it too. It’s very flexible with people’s lives. If you change your mind, we can write a new one or change it or update it. So, that’s what’s excellent about powers of attorney is it’s flexible. With guardianship, it is not adjustable. The probate court takes control, and you have to go by what the court says.
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