In January, new legislation initiated by President Obama went into effect whereby hospitals participating in Medicaid and Medicare must now allow all patients to decide visitation rights, as well as whom to entrust with making medical decisions on their behalf, regardless of sexual or gender identity.
To read the bill, click here. While this paves the way for members of the LGBT community to have further control over their own medical decisions, it is important to note that this legislation defers to state laws with regards to giving proxy for advanced medical directives. This makes a power of attorney form for LGBT seniors all the more relevant and necessary.
A power of attorney form designates who will make legal and financial decisions for you should you become physically and/or mentally incapacitated. With a health care proxy and living will you may also spell out an “advanced directive” for medical decision-making, including end-of-life decison making, such as life support. The person who you specify in these legal documents will then be able to inform the medical personnel what your wishes are. While the recent legislation is enormously helpful for providing equal rights in medical care, it will help to ask an experienced New York LGBT elder law attorney whether or not a power of attorney can guard against discrimination at the time of a partner’s greatest need.
Written by A.K. Lehmann, ABA Paralegal Lehmann & Lehmann Legal Communications