The reason medical facilities in Maryland and across the country always ask about such things as advanced directives when they admit a patient is because of the Federal Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990. This ensures that each patient who is on Medicare is informed of his or her right to make decisions about his or her own health care. One way to have a say in this is for each individual to have a medical power of attorney in place. It's also crucial the named agent is an individual that the person granting the power trusts implicitly and is also one who understands and accepts the specific wishes of the individual making the appointment.
Estate planning is important for everyone. An important legal document for an estate plan is a power of attorney, which is fairly easy to put in place. The Maryland resident who puts the power of attorney in place is called the principal, and the person who is appointed is called an agent or an attorney-in-fact. The agent should be someone who the principal trusts to make important decisions. The power of attorney can cover financial decisions, health care decisions or both, and the named agent must be at least 18 years old.
Many people have taken the step of drafting wills and setting up trusts to safeguard their wishes and provide for their loved ones after they have died. However, many may have overlooked the importance of designating an individual to serve as their health care power of attorney. There may be residents in Maryland who can benefit from learning more about the purpose of this decision.