Power Of Attorney Is A Critical Tool For LGBT Couples
White Plains, NY (Law Firm Newswire) August 30, 2013 - Partners in a committed, unmarried heterosexual or same-sex relationship may wish to consider what would happen the event that their partner becomes incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes.
When there is a medical emergency or a critical event, hospital staff may only allow one family member access to the patient. Many partners who are not legally married have found that whether they have access, or do not have access to the patient, can be at the discretion of hospital staff. Doctors must defer the opinions and wishes to the closest relative, which can leave the patient's partner out of the decision-making process.
Individuals in an LGBT relationship, married or unmarried, or those in an unmarried heterosexual relationship, may wish to consider creating a health care power of attorney document and a living will, in order to name their partner as the attorney-in-fact or their health care proxy. The legal documentation can help to ensure partners will stay involved in the medical treatment of their loved one if they are unable to communicate their wishes and are incapacitated. It is particularly important that same-sex couples have complete directives which ensure their ability to make needed medical decisions for their incapacitated partner is clearly stated.
The Human Rights Campaign has released a Health Care Equality Index report documenting LGBT partners sharing their stories about how hospitals and other medical facilities have failed to recognize advance care directives and living wills when an emergency situation calls for decisions about end-of-life medical treatment.
There are some essential legal documents which should be taken care of by LGBT couples. Advance health care directives, such as living wills, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney, all allow someone to clearly and unequivocally state their own health care wishes and designates their decision surrogates to make the medical decisions that are necessary on their behalf when they cannot. A living will clearly maps out what medial treatments the individual does and does not want during end-of-life treatment, including pain medications, life support and artificial resuscitation. A health care proxy names an "attorney-in-fact" who is designated to make medical decisions if needed. The health care proxy is authorized to make medical decisions, speak with doctors and nurses, and interact with other health care providers and insurers. These documents can come in handy, especially in states where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized.
Individuals interested in power of attorney and living wills should speak with an experienced New York estate planning attorney.
New York Contact:
Maria M. Brill
Littman Krooks LLP
New York City Office
655 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10017
(212) 490-2020 Phone
399 Knollwood Road
White Plains, New York 10603
(914) 684-2100 Phone
300 Westage Business Center Drive, Suite 400
Fishkill, NY 12524
(845) 896-1106 Phone
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