(Snippets from the frontline)
Power of Attorney
A major struggle families face is who makes medical decisions if a loved one is mentally incapacitated? Having a legal designee on a document known as Power of Attorney mitigates this dilemma.
If you don’t have this document, intuitively you might think there is a decision-making order of succession: Spouse or domestic partner, adult child, parent, adult sibling, etc. Not in California, as this is a statute legislated by States (see link below for your State).
Here is a recent scenario: Wife has a stroke and is in a coma; husband defers Power of Attorney to son who wants feeding tube; hospital HMO lawyer says “no” because son does not have POA, citing California law.
No matter how old you are, a durable Power of Attorney document should be drawn up to insure someone can speak for you.
Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, one can go online for legal paperwork (although I would pay an attorney to anoint its validity). In the long run, doing it now will save you money, and maybe even heartache.
End of scenario: Wife wakes up after 4 days; requests feeding tube. Whew!
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.