As we grow older, preparing for the future can involve some difficult decisions. What happens to our home, car, and other property when we’re gone? There’s estate planning to help make those decisions. Who will look after our financial interests should we become unable to? There are financial powers of attorney for that too.
Another major area of concern is health care. What happens to our care when we become too ill, old, or otherwise unable to make our own decisions? A durable power of attorney can be the answer.
Montana’s Power of Attorney Equivalent: The Designee
Montana law allows people to direct doctors to withhold life-sustaining medical care. For patients nearing the end of their lives, medical care can become expensive and burdensome. Family and friends can struggle to make healthcare decisions for a loved one, causing emotions to flare and disputes to arise. It’s not unusual for some patients to decide that they’d rather go in peace.
One option is to make a declaration directing doctors to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining medical care. Another option is to give someone else the power to make that decision. This is Montana’s equivalent of a power of attorney for healthcare decisions for the terminally ill.
The following chart summarized Montana’s legal process for granting this power to someone else:
|Code Sections||Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, 50-9-101 et seq.|
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts||Withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, defined as any medical procedure or intervention that will serve only to prolong the dying process. Qualified patient may designate another individual to make decisions governing withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Life-sustaining procedures may not be withdrawn when qualified patient is known to be pregnant and when it is likely fetus will result in live birth.|
|Legal Requirements for Durable Power of Attorney||(1) 18 yrs. and of sound mind; (2) signed by declarant or another at his request; (3) 2 witnesses; (4) communicated to physician and made part of patient's medical record; (5) declared to be terminal and no longer able to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment; (7) declarant may designate another individual, 18 yrs. old and of sound mind, to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment (sample form §50-9-103).|
|Revocation of Durable Power of Attorney||Revocable at any time in any manner without regard to physical or mental condition. Effective upon notice.|
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney||Unwilling physician shall take all reasonable steps as promptly as practicable to transfer to another who is willing.|
Related Resources for Durable Power of Attorney
Planning ahead for end of life issues should involve careful thought and planning. Read up on the various legal options available to you or a loved one. You can also consult a Montana estate-planning attorney for advice and assistance in preparing powers of attorney, living wills, and estate-planning documents.
Contact a qualified attorney.