Recent Changes to the Arizona Health Care Power of Attorney

By January 1, 2008Uncategorized

Senate Bill 1023
SB 1023 made several changes to existing law that will impact how families make decisions about funeral and disposition arrangements for their loved one. These changes address the following questions:
• What happens when disagreements occur within a family about a disposition decision?
• What happens when the person or group of persons responsible for making a disposition decision fails to make the disposition decision?
• How can individuals, families and persons communicate and record their disposition decisions?

Changes to the HCPOA
One of the primary purposes, among others, of SB 1023 was to expand the use of a health care power of attorney (HCPOA). A.R.S. § 36-3224 provides a sample form that may be used to create a HCPOA and includes provisions that:
* Permit a person to state their disposition decision about whether he or she wishes to be buried or cremated.
* Permit a person to provide specific instructions about a burial or cremation.

According to A.R.S. § 36-3221, an adult person (the principal) may designate another adult (the agent) to make health care decisions on that person’s behalf by executing a written health care power of attorney. SB 1023 adds a provision that allows the person designated as a health care power of attorney to provide funeral and disposition arrangements in the event of the person’s death.

Because of the legal change in SB 1023, the HCPOA will not always terminate at death, as was the case prior to the new law. This new provision also allows the agent to make decisions about whether organ donation or an autopsy should be performed.

If the new funeral and disposition language is not incorporated into a HCPOA, and if no other advance directive or guardianship provides an outline for these arrangements, reasonable effort must be made to contact the patient’s surviving spouse, unless they are legally separated. If responsibility can not be transferred to the spouse, or if there is no legal spouse, the person designated as POA in the decedent’s most recent durable power of attorney assumes responsibility for the arrangements. For a complete list of the surrogacy laws surrounding funeral and disposition arrangements, please visit www.azleg.gov.

How Can I Update My HCPOA?
The new funeral and disposition arrangement language has been incorporated into the power of attorney forms found on the Arizona Attorney General’s Web site (www.azag.gov). These forms can also be found by visiting the JacksonWhite Elder Law Web site at www.arizonaseniorlaw.com.

For more information on these changes to the HCPOA, or to schedule a free training for your facility or organization on these and other legal issues, please call Julie Allen at (480) 464-1111.

CHANGES TO ALTCS – EFFECTIVE January 1, 2008
The Social Security Administration will make a 2.3% cost of living adjustment and recipients will notice an increase in their payments.  The Medicare Part B premium will increase to $96.40.

This also means that the ALTCS income limit will increase from $1,869 to $1,911 and the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) will increase from $93.45 to $95.55.

JacksonWhite Welcomes Kristin Burns to the Elder Law Team
JacksonWhite would like to welcome and introduce Kristin Burns – our most recent addition to the team. Kristin serves as an Elder Care Coordinator for the East Valley community, providing education on Elder Law issues to both health care professionals and Arizona’s senior population. She is available to help professionals, families and potential members understand and maneuver through the ALTCS/AHCCCS system and other senior services. To contact Kristin, please call (480) 464-1111 or e-mail her at kburns@jacksonwhitelaw.com.