A Look at Power of Attorneys and How They Work in Indiana
Although it is not an enjoyable topic of conversation, it is important to discuss your preferences for financial and medical care in the event of incapacitation. While most think this conversation is limited to decisions in a person’s final days, incapacitation can occur at any time for numerous reasons.
In Indiana, you can give someone a Durable Power of Attorney over you. That allows them to make decisions on your behalf immediately after execution of the document. If you only wish for them to have those powers in the event you become incapacitated, you would execute a power of attorney document more commonly known as a Springing Power of Attorney. Be careful to make the distinction between these options and a General Power of Attorney. In the event you authorize someone to make financial decisions on your behalf in a General Power of Attorney prior to your incapacitation, the document becomes void upon your incapacitation. For example, you may sign a General Power of Attorney allowing someone to make transactions on your bank account but that person would have no authority in the event of your incapacitation. If you would like powers to extend beyond your incapacitation, you would need a Durable or Springing Power of Attorney. You can also execute a Limited Power of Attorney or a Tax Power of Attorney if you need to authorize actions on your behalf that are very specific in nature.
Aside from financial reasons to have a power of attorney, there may also be a need for someone to make decisions regarding medical care. It is helpful to have someone that would be locally available to meet with doctors or be present in the event of hospitalization. If specified, the medical authorization can be included in a Durable Power of Attorney. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows for broad decision making pursuant to Indiana Code 30-5-5-16. If a person holds a medical power of attorney, among other things, they have the ability to employ staff such as doctors or nurses, admit or release from a hospital, consent or withhold consent for procedures, access medical records or even stop or start medical therapies. There is also a blanket provision in the health care power of attorney documents that allows the power of attorney to do any lawful act relating to health care.
There is a requirement that the person holding the health care power of attorney attempt to discuss any decisions and options with the patient. In the event that is not possible, the attorney-in-fact (i.e. person holding the power of attorney) can make the decisions. A Living Will is a way to ensure family members and any medical professionals are aware of medical decisions. The Living Will allows the declarant to make decisions regarding life-sustaining measures such as artificial nutrition and administration of fluids, as well as, life-saving measures such as defibrillation, CPR and tracheotomies. A Living Will can include do not resuscitate (“DNR”) orders. It is important to date all executed documents to avoid any questions as to timeline if there are conflicting documents.
Emergency situations do not always allow time for medical staff to investigate whether any of the aforementioned documents exist. It is up to the patient to ensure all medical personnel have copies of any relevant documentation.
If you or someone you know has questions about obtaining or executing documents of this nature, Banks and Brower, LLC can assist. Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, or email us at email@example.com.