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I Filled Out a Power of Attorney at the Hospital - is it Enough?

 Posted on July 26, 2023 in Estate Planning Blog

Wheaton Estate Planning LawyerMost people who have gone under anesthesia for a procedure have been asked to fill out a power of attorney form at the hospital. This is a precaution meant to protect the hospital as much as it protects you. The physician performing your procedure needs to know who should step in to make decisions on your behalf if something goes wrong during your procedure. While this form will likely suffice to allow your chosen person to make medical decisions in the event that something does go wrong during your procedure, it should not generally be used as a long-term solution. The power of attorney forms that hospitals provide generally only cover one of the two major types of powers of attorney. Most if not all adults need both medical and financial powers of attorney. It is best to work with an attorney to create strong and specific powers of attorney.

Why You Also Need a Financial Power of Attorney

Should you become incapacitated for any length of time, your financial power of attorney is likely to be just as important as your medical power of attorney. Your hospital power of attorney may allow your best friend to decide how to proceed with your medical care, it very likely does not allow her to access your bank account to pay medical bills - or to pay your rent so that you will not come home to an eviction notice.

A financial power of attorney can allow your chosen individual to access your finances and other documents for the specific purposes of:

  • Paying for your medical care;

  • Applying for and managing Medicaid or Medicare benefits in your name;

  • Paying your usual bills, such as rent, while you are incapacitated;

  • Other purposes you specify.

A medical power of attorney provided by the hospital likely does not address any of these.

A Power of Attorney is Not a Living Will

There is always some risk that your power of attorney could “go rogue” and make decisions you would disagree with. This is very common when you name someone close to you who may be overtaken by grief or fear. While you can set certain limitations using a medical power of attorney, it is much better to have a living will as well. In your living will, you can provide specific instructions regarding what you would want if you were terminally ill.

Contact a Lombard Estate Planning Lawyer

A. Traub & Associates can help you determine which advance planning documents you may need. Our experienced Lombard estate planning attorneys will help you design the custom plan that is right for you. To begin with a confidential consultation, call 630-426-0196.


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