If we become incapacitated due to a coma or a mental condition like Alzheimer’s, most of us would want someone we trust to advocate strongly for our medical care. Fortunately, state laws allow people to designate an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” to make different decisions for us. The legal document that provides the power to act on the document creator’s behalf is a durable power of attorney.
Financial vs. Health Care Powers of Attorney
One type of power of attorney is the financial durable power of attorney, which allows your designated representative to do various financial activities for you, such as write checks for you or collect payments for leasing farmland. The table below doesn’t describe the law for this type of power of attorney.
Another type is a durable power of attorney for health care, which allows your agent to make health care decisions for you when you’re not able to make decisions, in the judgment of your doctor(s). Often, healthcare power of attorneys are created as part of an advance health care directive with a living will that designates your medical care wishes for things like life support, if you’re in a coma or terminally ill.
The chart below outlines the main durable power of attorney for healthcare laws in Kansas.
|Code Sections||Kansas Statutes Chapter 58, Article 6: Powers and Letters of Attorney|
|Specific Powers and Life-Prolonging Acts||A health care agent has a duty to act in a way that's consistent with the expressed desires of the person who created the healthcare power of attorney. The agent can do any of the following:
The creator of the power of attorney can limit the extent in writing these powers. Also, these powers specifically don’t include the ability to create or revoke a living will.
|Legal Requirements for Durable Power of Attorney||To create a valid durable power of attorney in Kansas, it must be:
These powers only come into effect upon the principal’s incapacity, unless specifically written to come into effect earlier. The powers also continue after the death of the principal, at least as to arranging for organ donation, autopsy, or burial or cremation of the body.
|Validity of Out-of-State Power of Attorneys||Any durable power of attorney for health care decisions which is valid under the laws of the state of the principal's residence at the time it was signed is valid under Kansas law.|
|Immunity for Agents and Health Care Professionals||A person, such as an agent or medical records specialist, who acts in good faith pursuant to a power of attorney for health care without knowing it’s invalid is immune from liability for that action.|
If you’ve decided to start planning for incapacity and end-of-life, as uncomfortable as that can be, you may want to create a health care power of attorney. You can use online resources to draft your own, or you can seek the help of a Kansas estate planning lawyer. An experienced lawyer can draft a power of attorney for you, as well as any other estate planning documents you want, such as a living will, will, or trust.
Note: State laws are revised frequently, please speak to a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these estate planning laws.
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