Friday, October 06, 2006

Medical Power of Attorney

We get a lot of calls at the office about drafting wills, but no one ever calls about powers of attorney. Also, we have lots of clients that come in with a poorly drafted will that was done by some cheap lawyer or by the client himself, but give me a blank stare when I ask about powers of attorney. If you take nothing else from this post, please remember this: IF YOU PLAN FOR DEATH ONLY (AND NOT DISABILITY) YOU HAVE ONLY DONE HALF THE JOB.

I read somewhere that people under 40 years old are 4 times more likely to be disabled than to die. Therefore, if you only plan for death (i.e. a will), you are missing out on 80% of your legal need.

So what is a Medical Power of Attorney? It is a short document that gives an individual you designate the right to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make them for yourself. Typically, medical powers of attorney your doctor to be the one that certifies (in writing) that you are unable to make the decision.

So why do I need one? Your appointee (attorney-in-fact) will be the one to sign surgical consent forms, admit you to a hospital, and make key medical decisions. It is much better to have decided on one person you trust to make a decision than to have your family members arguing in the hospital hallway about what you would have wanted done. I have so many stories that I could tell you about family squabbles that could have been avoided with this simple document.

So what is the cost? This varies from state to state and attorney to attorney, but it really should take no more than an hour for an attorney to draft one. Most estate planning attorneys have some flat fee will package that includes a will and disability planning documents (medical power of attorney and others).

As always, please feel free to contact us through our website ( if we can be of assistance.

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