Archive for the ‘Power of Attorney’ Category

What Do LGBT Couples Need to Know About Power of Attorney?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

LGBT couples need to be aware of the legal documents that can protect them in the event of a medical emergency.  Unlike heterosexual married couples, whose rights to visitation and to make medical decisions are unquestioned, LGBT couples – and unmarried heterosexual couples – are not afforded the same rights.  This is why it is essential for couples to understand the importance of power of attorney and living wills.

Many LGBT couples want the right to visit their loved one in the hospital, and want their loved one to have the right to make critical healthcare decisions.  The solution is a living will with healthcare power of attorney.

A living will is a document stating an individual’s wishes in the event of a medical emergency resulting in incapacitation.  A living will explains what procedures one does and does not want in an end-of-life medical situation.  It can contain directions concerning artificial resuscitation, pain medicine and life support procedures.

A healthcare power of attorney document is a way for an individual to appoint another to make those medical decisions.  It has the effect of giving LGBT couples the decision-making rights that are already afforded to heterosexual married couples.

Even gay and lesbian couples who are married in their state need to consider a living will with healthcare power of attorney.  Though a couple may live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, these documents may be of crucial importance when traveling out of state.

What documents are important for LGBT couples:

  • A living will states a person’s wishes in the event of a life-threatening medical emergency
  • A healthcare power of attorney assigns healthcare decision-making power to a particular person

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Difference Between Power of Attorney and Guardianship

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

A power of attorney and guardianship both give an individual or entity the ability to make decisions for another person. But what are the differences?

The power of attorney is a valuable estate planning tool that enables another individual to make financial decisions in your stead at any time, for example, if you become incapacitated or, for some other reason (such as traveling out of the country), are not able to sign necessary documents. The individual, referred to as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” can be a friend, spouse, relative or any other trusted person and may, for instance, be called upon to sell real estate, withdraw money from a bank account, or pay bills. Although you must have capacity at the time you execute your power of attorney, it remains valid in the event that you become incapacitated.

How is guardianship different? Guardianship, which requires court authorization, is only granted when incapacity exists. It encompasses much broader powers than a power of attorney, extending beyond financial decisions to health care and personal affairs, such as routine medical treatment and living arrangements.

With a guardianship, the court will appoint a court evaluator, an impartial person who investigates the issues and reports his findings to the court. The court also conducts a hearing, with witnesses in attendance, during which the court determines whether or not the individual in question needs a guardian and who that guardian should be. Although a friend or family member may petition a court to become someone’s guardian, sometimes the court chooses a financial institution or guardianship agency instead.

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