Just last weekend, I received a somber call from an ICU nurse at a local hospital. A long term client had been involved in an accident and was in a coma. The client designated me as her power of attorney and health care surrogate and the physicians sought my guidance on my client’s wishes. After that first call, I spent a great deal of time making contact with my client’s family, speaking with her doctors and generally taking care of her affairs. Because her family was out of town, having a trusted professional appointed to act on her behalf relieved a great deal of stress and pressure the family was facing.
Interestingly, the most critical tasks I was called on to perform was helping make sure her three dogs were cared for. Shortly after her accident, her beloved pets were taken into custody by Animal Control. My office was informed that shortly they would be placed out for adoption or worse. Animal Control would not release any information about the animals to my client’s friends or family, but they quickly responded to my requests and we were granted custody of the pets.
Over the years, some of the most frustrating things the family and friends of someone in distress have had to deal with could have been eliminated immediately had the person executed a living will. Banks, insurance companies, power and cable companies, employers. All of these businesses are very reluctant to share information with anyone for fear of legal action being taken against them. The simplest task, like keeping the power on, can turn into a days long affair because no one will provide you with information about an account if you are not authorized or do not have a power of attorney.
The good news about the story I shared is that by an absolute miracle, my client pulled through and is recovering remarkably. Her greatest joy was knowing that her beloved pets were waiting for her…but that might not have been the case had she not taken the time to properly execute a power of attorney and health care surrogate document. For more information on drafting these, and other important documents, visit my website at www.mattweidnerlaw.com.