Patient advocate designations are specialized powers of attorney focusing on health care matters. They are a way for you to legally authorize trusted relatives or friends to deal with health care providers, have access to your private medical records, and make treatment decisions in your best interests if and when you are no longer able to do so on your own behalf due to accident, illness, advanced age, or other reasons. A properly prepared patient advocate designation can usually do away with the necessity of petitioning probate court to appoint a guardian for you in those situations. Patient advocate designations are also used to communicate in advance your instructions regarding life support and the withdrawal of life support in the event of terminal illness, and irreversible coma, and so forth and do so in a legally enforceable document. Patient advocate designations that have been properly prepared after careful consideration of your personal preferences and individual circumstances can spare you, your family, and medical care providers stress and uncertainty in a medical crisis. By contrast, patient advocate designations prepared in haste, without the benefit of professional advice or thoughtful discussion with a knowledgeable attorney, can actually become the cause of stress and uncertainty for you, your family, and medical care providers in a medical crisis.

If you would like to learn more, please contact one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.

Michael J. TerBeek
Barbara J. Kennedy