Today’s article will focus on power of attorney (POA) over health care, which is also known as a DNR (do not resuscitate). In prior blogs, I’ve generally discussed estate planning and wills. When you do a living will with an attorney, it usually comes as a package that includes POA over health care and POA over financial decisions.
To be clear, we are specifically discussing Nevada power of attorney over healthcare decisions. However, each state has different questions and requirements. In Nevada, there is a form for the POA. There are different variations of the form, but every one of them has five questions, no matter who you’re getting this POA from, it’s going to have at least five questions and the questions ask whether or not you want to pull the plug in certain circumstances. So, the reason that this type of a document is important is because this is going to come into play when you’re still alive, but you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.
Once you nominate somebody to act as your agent, you’re also giving them guidelines. So, you’re telling them what you want them to do in certain situations. It’s not going to cover every situation because life can get crazy and you can’t cover everything, but it gives the agent an understanding of what you want to happen in an emergency. It also makes it easier for the people that you leave behind so family members aren’t at odds or having to go to court to make a decision.
I always recommend you only nominate one person. That’s because if you nominate two people, then we’ve got a problem if one of them disagrees with the other cause they have 50/50 decision making power. Then you always nominate a second in case the first person isn’t available. This is particularly true when you’re talking about married couples since they usually nominate each other, which is great but what if they’re both in an accident together and they both are unconscious. So, you always want to have somebody else that can step in.
Another thing I always tell my clients is that they want their agent to live in the United States because if they don’t live in the United States it becomes very difficult to enforce and get the person here to make the decision.
I mentioned living wills earlier. Just to be clear, a living will and a POA over healthcare are not the same thing. A living will includes a POA over health care and is a little bit more in depth about what the person wants, and to make sure that it happens. Another place that you’re going to see the term living will is the Secretary of State. Once you do a POA over healthcare you have the option of lodging it with the Secretary of State. The reason you would do this is because then it’s available for ER doctors to pull it up in the event of an emergency.
Hopefully no one ever needs this document. However, it is a very important document. Most people do this so that it makes it easier for the people that you leave behind to make that really hard decision. It also can potentially avoid court in certain situations.