Patient advocacy, or having someone speak on your behalf in healthcare situations, can be vital when it comes to ensuring you’re receiving quality care that meets your needs. One of the essential documents in an estate plan is a patient advocate designation which protects you and your family if you become incapacitated and are unable to make your own medical decisions. Designating a patient advocate isn’t required, but there are significant reasons why you should.
What is a Patient Advocate?
A patient advocate is a person 18 years or older who can make decisions concerning the care and medical or mental health treatment of the person who has designated them as their patient advocate.
When you create a designation, you specify the nature of the powers your advocate will have. Your patient advocate can make decisions for you only after signing an acceptance and only when you cannot make your own decisions. Your attending physician must determine you cannot make treatment decisions.
Your advocate’s authority will be defined by the designation document you establish. Only after you have signed an acceptance and if you cannot make decisions on your own will your patient advocate be able to make decisions for you. This person is to act in your best interests to implement your expressed instructions and preferences.
Reasons to Establish a Patient Advocate
If you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated, no one (not even your spouse or children) has the authority to make choices regarding your medical care if you do not have a valid patient advocate designation. To designate a guardian with the authority to make those decisions, your loved ones must petition the probate court, which consumes time and finances. This is a guardianship.
A durable power of attorney for health care protects you and your family in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself by confirming your wishes and appointing someone to make decisions on your behalf. Therefore, having one is essential, and it is vital to be sure it is valid in accordance with Kansas and Missouri law.
How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
Executing a patient advocate designation requires compliance with the legal requirements of Kansas and Missouri. Although an attorney is not required to draft one, it is never a good idea to do it without the guidance of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
A lawyer will explain the designation before you sign it and make certain that the document and execution comply with all legal requirements. A skilled attorney also ensures your paperwork is correctly executed and written to meet potential future issues. Your lawyer also can consult with you regarding these choices as there may be points you haven’t thought about. Finally, using a lawyer ensures you understand the other documents, like a will or trust, that should also be a part of your estate plan.
Talk With Our Estate Planning Attorneys
Paths Law Firm attorneys assist clients with the full range of estate planning needs, including patient advocate designations. We’ve been providing legal services to clients for more than 25 years. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.