Jennifer L. VanderVeen, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Tuesley Hall Konopa, South Bend INOn March 13, 2018, Governor Eric Holcomb signed a new law which, at long last, creates a hierarchy for healthcare decision-making in Indiana. However, while the law clarifies who can make healthcare decisions for an incapacitated individual, it does not eliminate the need for all adults to sign a health care power of attorney.

According to the new statute, the following individuals may make healthcare decisions for an incapacitated person, in order of priority:

  1. Spouse
  2. Any adult child
  3. Any parent
  4. Any adult sibling
  5. Any grandparent
  6. Any adult grandchild
  7. Any other adult relative; or
  8. A friend who meets certain conditions

In many of these categories, there is still the possibility that more than one person could have equal decision-making authority. For example, an individual with no living spouse and four children would have a pool of four people who could make health care decisions. Unless all are present and in agreement, it is unlikely that a medical provider would accept the decision being made, for fear of getting contradictory opinions from the other children. An individual could also face the situation where an only child who has been estranged from the parent would be placed in the position of making healthcare decisions.

A properly drafted and executed health care power of attorney can alleviate these concerns by ensuring that only people you trust and who know your beliefs and wishes are authorized to make health care decisions for you. Anyone over the age of 18 should have health care documents in place and should talk to their designated decision-makers about their wishes.

Disclaimer: The THK Legal Blog is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. In no case does the published material constitute an exhaustive legal study, and applicability to a particular situation depends upon an investigation of specific facts. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.