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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Hildebrand

Living Wills and Health Care: Powers of Attorney

Have you considered whether your wishes will be adhered to if you become incapacitated and someone else has to make your medical decisions for you? Who will that person be? Is it who you would choose? Does that person know your wishes?

What If You Do Not Have a Living Will of Designated Health Care Representative?

If you have not established a Living Will or Designated a Health Care Representative, there is no better time than the present. Unfortunately, we never know when these documents will be needed and it is better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them.

Under current law, without a living will or designated health care representative, there is default person or persons that the medical facilities will look to in order to fulfill the role. Obviously, if you are under eighteen (18) years of age, it will be your parent or parents depending on who has legal custody. If your parents doe not have custody, it will be your legal guardian.

If you are over the age of eighteen (18), there is an order of who would be appointed based upon relationship, not necessary closeness. That order is:

(1) A judicially appointed guardian of the person or a representative appointed under section 8 of this chapter.

(2) A spouse.

(3) An adult child.

(4) A parent.

(5) An adult sibling.

(6) A grandparent.

(7) An adult grandchild.

(8) The nearest other adult relative in the next degree of kinship who is not listed in subdivisions (2) through (7).

(9) A friend who:

(A) is an adult;

(B) has maintained regular contact with the individual; and

(C) is familiar with the individual's activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs.

(10) The individual's religious superior, if the individual is a member of a religious order.

What Can You Do?

If you do not believe that those who would be in the position the make medical decisions for you based upon Indiana law, then you should have a Designated Health Care Representative. This person should be someone you trust to follow through with your wishes. For example, it is understandable that you love your spouse and in some ways that is the person who would be expected to make those choices for you. However, what if your spouse believes that life should be preserved at all costs, and wants that for his or her self, but you do not want to be resuscitated or put on life support? It may be better to appoint someone who is more willing to follow your wishes rather than their own, especially in such a difficult and emotional situation.

Also, the other part of it is to have a living will. This document will lay out for your Health Care Representative, your loved ones, and your medical providers, what you want if you are incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. This document tells them what your decisions would be in a written form, for circumstances such as this. It also helps your loved ones understand decisions made by your Designated Health Care Representative that they may not agree with, which can lower conflict at such emotional and difficult times.

What Can We Do For You

Here at Hildebrand Law, we can help you and your loved ones prepare in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to make your own healthcare decisions. We will sit down with you and go over your options and what you want. We will listen to to your specific circumstances and your struggles to decide you should make the decisions if you are unable to do so, and offer assistance in making that decision, keeping in mind that in the end, it is your decision. We can draft the documents to be as vague or as specific as you choose. We can advise you on who to provide copies to. We can assist you with these issues only or help with a more detailed plan to include your Last Will and Testament and related documents.

What Should You Do Today

Contact our office to set up a time to discuss your Living Will and Designated Health Care Representative with our attorney. It is never a better time to plan for your future than now.

You can call our office at 574-303-6578 or email: to schedule your appointment

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