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What You Need To Know About … Guardianships & Healthcare Powers of Attorney (Part Two)

In Part One, we covered what a guardianship is and why a guardianship is not the best solution for most people. Understanding how guardianships and powers of attorney really work is essential when a loved one is in rehabilitation, or in long term care,  – even if the loved one is competent to make their own decisions. As clients frequently note to me, it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you.

Part Two

Alternative to Guardianship – Medical Power of Attorney (POA) / Patient Advocate Designation

The benefits of pre-planning are numerous. Ultimately, having good powers of attorney in place is a cheaper and easier option that places the least amount of burden on the family and provides more options. Additionally:

  • Powers of attorney are voluntary, PRIVATE agreements.
  • They are cost effective – one of the most cost effective documents done in estate planning.
  • The Court is not involved. No one has to pre-approve the signing of the DNR. No one has to report on a yearly basis.
  • You are in control of who is named to make decisions for you as well as the ability to communicate the type of care you do and do not want.

To sign a Medical Power of Attorney, you must not have a guardian, you have to be over the age of 18 years and be of sound mind (able to understand the document and its purpose).

One thing that many persons who have been appointed as an agent or patient advocate under a medical power of attorney frequently do not understand, however, is that a competent person makes his or her own decisions, even if a medical POA is in place.

In other words, if a person is competent to make their own decisions, a POA cannot make decisions for them. This sometimes causes conflict with staff of facilities that know the law and their legal obligations to the resident or patient when or if the POA is insisting on making decisions. Knowing the limits to powers is just as important as knowing what the powers are!

Did you miss part one of this article? Click here to go there now. 

Questions? Need Help? Call Us Today (248) 248-1511


This article by Michigan elder law attorney Nicole Wipp and the Family & Aging Law Center PLLC is not, and should not be construed as, legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only. To better understand how this legal concept can be applied to you, consult with an attorney.

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