The Huffington Post ran a story regarding the Medical Power of Attorney executed by Gary Coleman. Mr. Coleman’s agent made the decision to remove him from life support under his Medical Power of Attorney.
It appears, however, that Mr. Coleman was divorced when he passed away. Mr. Coleman’s Medical Power of Attorney was executed prior to his divorce in 2008 and had not been subsequently amended or revoked. His ex-wife told the hospital that she still his spouse and the hospital allowed her to make medical decisions on Mr. Coleman’s behalf.
E! Online is reporting that the Medical Power of Attorney executed by Mr. Coleman was not affected under Utah law due to the divorce between Mr. Coleman and his ex.
If Gary Coleman Was in Texas When He Died
In Texas, pursuant to Texas Health & Safety Code 166.155(a)(3) a designation of a spouse under a Medical Power of Attorney is automatically revoked upon divorce. Mr. Coleman’s spouse would have been in hot water trying to pass herself off as still married and making such a decision. This is probably some comfort to Texans many of whom do not address this issue upon divorce. The revocation is true for a Durable Power of Attorney and a designation of a spouse as executor of your estate. Unfortunately, a lot of heartaches may ensue if a family had to come and fight with a spouse over the issue.
Something to keep in mind is that a hospital, especially in a stressful and time-sensitive situation is going to have a tough time trying to confirm if a patient is divorced therefore invalidating the Medical Power of Attorney that has on record. Worst, there may be the designation of only one agent and the hospital or medical may be rushing around attempting to locate someone who is aware of the patient’s wishes regarding end of life care. The last thing a family needs in this situation is a conflict that could, ultimately, require court intervention.
All designations–life insurance beneficiaries, Powers of Attorney, Wills, POD and JTWROS designations on accounts should all be updated upon divorce to clear up any issues regarding who does and does not speak for you or receive your estate.