Who Makes Medical Decision Should Something Happen to Me?

by Robert Schaller on Jan. 09, 2023

Other Power of Attorney Estate  Estate Planning Estate  Wills & Probate 

Summary: A power of attorney for health care is essential to protecting a person should they become incapacitated. A power of attorney is especially important when the person is responsible for taking care of a young child.

Attorney Robert Schaller believes in the moto "Healthy mother, healthy child."  Your child has a symbiotic relationship with you. The health of your child is dependent in large part upon your health. 

But what happens should you become incapacitated?  Who is empowered to make medical decisions on your behalf?  No one can predict when a serious illness or catastrophic accident might occur (think highway truck collision). When it does, you may need someone else to speak or make health care decisions for you. If you plan now, you can increase the chances that the medical treatment you get will be the treatment you want. With proper estate planning, you can pre-select someone to be your “health care agent.”  Your agent is the person you trust to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself. These decisions should be based on your personal values and wishes.

No court authorization is required to grant your pre-selected “agent” permission to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated.  Instead, your agent could take immediate action to protect you and your family.  No cost and no delay. 

Advanced estate planning today can give you peace of mind – knowing that if something incapacitating were to happen to you, your medical decisions would be honored. The Schaller Law Firm can give you peace of mind by drafting a “power of attorney for health care,” which provides for your pre-selected agent to make medical decisions for you. This is a key component of the Schaller Law Firm’s “New Parent Child Protection Plan.”

Choosing Your Health Care Agent:

By drafting your “power of attorney for health care,” you get to designate an agent who you trust to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated.  Typically, a spouse would be the first choice followed by a responsible family member or friend.  Your agent can act on your behalf in any way you could act.  No court action. No court expense.  You can even change agents at any time by amending or revoking the power of attorney. This is one of the most essential tasks any parent should do, and you should do it as soon as your child is born.

You can pick your spouse or a family member, but you do not have to. You should also pick a “successor agent” should your agent be unable to act.  Your agent will have the responsibility to make medical treatment decisions, even if other people close to you might urge a different decision. The selection of your agent should be done carefully, as he or she will have ultimate decision-making authority for your treatment decisions once you are no longer able to voice your preferences. Choose a family member, friend, or other person who:

        (i) is at least 18 years old;

        (ii) knows you well;

        (iii) you trust to do what is best for you and is willing to carry out your wishes, even if he or she may not agree with your wishes;

        (iv) would be comfortable talking with and questioning your physicians and other health care providers;

        (v) would not be too upset to carry out your wishes if you became very sick; and

        (vi) can be there for you when you need it and is willing to accept this important role.

When making medical decisions for you, your agent will need to think about conversations you have had, your personality, and how you handled important health care issues in the past. Therefore, it is important to talk with your agent and your family about the following issues. What is most important to you in your life? How important is it to you to avoid pain and suffering? If you had to choose, is it more important to you to live as long as possible, or to avoid prolonged suffering or disability? Would you rather be at home or in a hospital for the last days or weeks of your life?  Do you have religious, spiritual, or cultural beliefs that you want your agent and others to consider? Do you wish to make a significant contribution to medical science after your death through organ or whole-body donation?

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer

Lawyer.com is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on Lawyer.com is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by Lawyer.com. The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, Lawyer.com recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See Lawyer.com's full Terms of Use for more information.