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A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a powerful document which states who will make your healthcare decisions should you be unable to do so. Let’s take the following example. Sally is driving with her boyfriend, Joe, to go to a musical concert in Phoenix. While on the highway, they get in a car accident which leaves Sally in a coma. Sally is taken to the hospital. Can Joe communicate with the hospital staff? Can Joe make surgery decisions for Sally?

In our example, let’s assume Sally doesn’t have any estate planning documents in place. In Arizona, Joe would have a low priority (see below) in order to have the legal authority to communicate with the doctors and make medical decisions on Sally’s behalf.  In order to bypass the statutory priority, Sally must nominate Joe in a valid Healthcare Power of Attorney for Joe to be able to step into the shoes of Sally and make her healthcare decisions should she be unable to do so temporarily or permanently.

According to Arizona law, absent a valid Healthcare Power of Attorney, the following have priority to make health care decisions for the patient and who shall follow the patient’s wishes if they are known:

1) The patient’s spouse, unless the patient and spouse are legally separated.

2) An adult child of the patient. If the patient has more than one adult child, the health care provider shall seek the consent of a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation.

3) A parent of the patient.

4) If the patient is unmarried, the patient’s domestic partner.

5) A brother or sister of the patient.

6) A close friend of the patient.

Estate Planning is often thought of as only for the wealthy. However, as the above illustration shows, we never discussed Sally’s estate size. Simple planning with a Healthcare Power of Attorney and other ancillary healthcare documents are vital if you want to be in control of who makes your important healthcare decisions. It’s time to discuss with an experienced estate planning attorney whether your existing plan needs updating, or a plan needs to be created to meet your individual situation.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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