Should You Assign Durable Power of Attorney?

Living Will The living will provides instructions to your family and doctors regarding the use of life sustaining procedures in terminal conditions. It is also sometimes referred to as an advanced healthcare directive.

Sample Living Will Language - PROCEDURES I, NANCY A. GREEN, County of MARICOPA, State of ARIZONA, willfully and voluntarily declare that if my death becomes imminent, my dying shall not be artificially prolonged under the guidelines described below. You should also consider a revocable living trust or medicaid trust as part of your estate planning.

Guidelines for the Cessation of Life-Prolonging Procedures If at any time I should have an incurable injury, disease or illness certified to be a terminal condition by two (2) physicians who have determined that my death will occur unless life-sustaining procedures are used and if the application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process, I direct that life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn and that I be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication or the performance of medical procedures deemed necessary to provide me with comfort and allow me to die with the least amount of pain possible.

Further Reading: Revocable Living Trust, Trusts, Probate & Medicaid Trusts.

I also specifically request that if I am in a coma or other persistent vegetative state with little or no chance of regaining consciousness, or with irreversible brain damage and unable to recognize people or speak, or with irreversible brain damage with a terminal illness, as certified by two (2) physicians as in the preceding paragraph, that no life-sustaining procedures or aggressive medical therapy, including (but not limited to) cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the implantation of a cardiac pacemaker, renal dialysis, parental feeding, the use of respirators or ventilators, blood transfusions, nasogastric tube use, intravenous feedings, endotracheal tube use, organ transplants, major surgery, chemotherapy and invasive diagnostic tests, be undertaken in my behalf, and I further authorize the administration of pain medications even if they dull consciousness and indirectly shorten my life.

Statement of My Intent In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such life-sustaining procedures, it is my intent that this declaration be honored by my family, the person or persons to whom I have given a durable power of attorney for health care, and my attending physician as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and to accept the consequences of such refusal.

This declaration is made after careful consideration and is in accordance with my strong convictions and beliefs. I want my wishes and directions as expressed in this declaration to be carried out to the extent permitted by law. Insofar as they are not legally enforceable, I hope that my family, my physicians, the courts, and all others who may be involved in such decision-making, will regard themselves as morally bound by this declaration. I further direct that any copy of this document be treated as an original and of full force and effect as such original.

Sample Living Will Language - RELEASE OF LIABILITY Release of Liability I hereby release and hold harmless any person who, in good faith, terminates life-sustaining procedures in accordance with the guidelines in this declaration. I understand the full import of this declaration and I am emotionally and mentally competent to make this declaration.


Do you trust the person to whom you are assigning power?

I assume that you wouldn't even be considering giving someone power of attorney unless you trusted them, but limited power is far different from durable power. Since the assignment stays until you revoke it, that person has complete control over your financial and legal matters, which is considerable when you think of everything that could possibly happen to you. Make sure that the person is not only trustworthy, but also capable of making those decisions as you would prefer.


Why are you considering this option?

The reason behind wanting to assign durable power of attorney should definitely play into your decision-making process. For example, if you are concerned that you might be incapacitated by illness or injury, you might consider instead assigning a springing power of attorney, which kicks in only when a designated event occurs. This allows you to consider making your own decisions until and unless that happens.


Is the person to whom you are assigning power comfortable with the arrangement?

You not only have to consider your own feelings when you assign durable power of attorney, but also the feelings of the person you are naming on the form. This is an incredible responsibility you are bestowing on someone else, so make sure you talk it over at length before filling out the form and signing it. You can also ask them how they will handle your legal and financial decision once the power kicks in.


Are you married?

If you are currently married, your spouse must give permission to assign durable power of attorney - or any power at all - if the type of power you assign affects him or her in any way. For example, financial matters are a consideration of both husband and wife, so you'll need to have both signatures on the form, signed in front of a notary public. Make sure you talk about this possibility with your spouse to ensure you are on the same page.


How will the other person benefit from this assignment?

Unfortunately, we live in a greedy, litigious society where even the most trustworthy of individuals can have ulterior motives. Consider how that person will be affected or will benefit when you assign durable power of attorney. What will this responsibility do to your relationship? And what will happen if the power is abused?