ESTATE PLANNING, WILLS & TRUSTS
HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY
Making Medical Decisions for Those Who Cannot
A Health Care Power of Attorney (sometimes referred to as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) is a document that appoints an individual to make medical decisions for an incapacitated person. In South Carolina, an individual should execute this document in conjunction with a Living Will. Both documents are statutory and are contained in the South Carolina Code of Laws.
An incapacitated person lacks the ability to appreciate the nature and implications of his or her condition and proposed health care, to make a reasoned decision concerning the proposed health care, or to communicate that decision. A patient's inability to consent must be certified by two licensed physicians, each of whom has examined the patient. In the case of an emergency, the patient's inability to consent may be certified by a health care professional responsible for the care of the patient, if the health care professional states in writing in the patient's records that the delay occasioned by obtaining certification from two licensed physicians would be detrimental to the patient's health.
The person appointed as a Health Care Power of Attorney has the legal right to communicate with regard to health care decisions in the event the person can no longer communicate independently. Such decisions can include requiring, withdrawing, refusing or consenting to any form of medical treatment or care. A Health Care Power of Attorney also has the ability to admit or discharge the principal from any medical center.
In a situation where one becomes incapacitated and there is not an appointed Health Care Power of Attorney any immediate family, relatives, or other interested parties must begin legal proceedings to be appointed as Guardian of the incapacitated person. These proceedings must generally be commenced in the Probate Court where the incapacitated person currently resides.
A Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will should be implemented as part of an individual's basic estate plan and the Law Office of John Kachmarsky can assist you in preparing one.
Please contact us today to discuss all of your immediate estate planning needs.