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The lack of an appointed person to take care of the legal matters when one is dying often becomes a problem because no one anticipates this happening. And who can blame them? Nobody would want to go morbid and prepare for something like dying from an illness. Death is easier because the will (as in the last will and testament) will take care of the legal matters post-mortem but dying is another thing altogether. This is especially true with people who are gravely injured and cannot make decisions for themselves like for instance when they are under comatose or when they cannot speak, move or are invalid.
Power of attorney is one of the ways that you can appoint a representative for you should something happen to you. Although power of attorneys are often given for a specific period of time, some principals, or those who are giving the power of attorney, can extend the contract until something happens to them like when they become terminally ill or when they become gravely injured. This however should be plainly stated on the contract for the power of attorney. Otherwise, it will be deemed invalid by the court.
The principal can also choose to appoint an agent or the attorney in fact (the person to whom the power of attorney is given to) to be his or her representative when they become ill. Some, in fact, appoint people to act on their stead while they are in the hospital and to make any medical decisions in their stead like when they need to pull the plug in case of a comatose. This is what is often called theMedical Issues And Power Of Attorney by Harrison Barnes
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