From our “Ask a Question” mailbag addresses the issue of combining a medical power of attorney and divorce.
“I gave my wife my medical power of attorney and divorce started soon after. During our divorce proceedings, does my wife still have the power to pull my plug?”
Medical Power of Attorney and divorce; a bad combination. In most jurisdictions, if you are unresponsive in a hospital without a Medical Power of Attorney, your spouse makes your medical decisions. Your spouse maintains this power even if you have filed for divorce. If the divorce isn’t final, your spouse is still your spouse. If you are in a divorce, do you want your spouse making your medical decisions?
Medical Power of Attorney and Divorce: Your Soon-To-Be-Ex May Have the Power to Pull Your Plug!
Most separating couples do not want the other spouse to possess medical powers. Therefore, every person involved in a divorce should immediately consult with an Estate Planning lawyer. It is time to execute a new Medical Power of Attorney. It might be painful, but it is time to shift these duties to another person. A good Estate Planning attorney can help sort through the candidates. Not everyone is a good fit for making decisions in a hospital. Plus, the person you select may have to deal with your ex, who may attempt to gain control over your medical decisions.
Even while married, you are allowed to name anyone over 18 as Surrogate. You are not required to name your spouse. You should pick someone who will carry out your wishes and not let their bias cloud the decision. But, if you don’t select anyone, your spouse is given the power by default. Further, if you have an old Medical Power of Attorney and do not update it, your spouse still has the authority.
Divorce Means it is Time for a New Estate Plan.
While meeting with your Estate Planning attorney, you should also address a new Financial Power of Attorney and a Will. Also, review your life insurance, annuity, pension and IRA designations. Have you still named your soon-to-be-ex? Don’t let anything go overlooked, let you estate planning attorney review your plan. You have enough to worry about, let us help!
If you have any other questions about Estate Planning Attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!
Peter Klenk, Esq., LL.M.