Bonked On The Head And Can’t Think!

What do you do?

Understandably, what we’re going to chat about can be a very touchy subject.  People don’t like to think about unpleasant situations of illness or injury.  But these things happen, maybe even to you. Do you travel on the fourlane? Enough said.

 What if you’ve got a bonk on the head and during that incapacity, either temporary or permanent, health care decisions are made for you that perhaps run against what you would had wished for yourself? This is where a durable power of attorney comes in. 

Mexico, (at the federal level), and a few, (but not all), states have in recent years provided for laws authorizing what you and I might label a durable power of attorney.  The “durable” part is important.  In Mexico, “regular” powers of attorney become useless once the person granting the power is incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney are to allow the person designated to make certain decisions specifically authorized by the document. If the durable power of attorney is to act in your behalf in a medical incapacity, your designated person can not go down and clean out your bank account. Medical decision only, if that’s the way you draw it up.

Planning ahead would be immensely wise, and here’s some food for thought.

Who will you designate to be the person who makes those decisions? Is it a person you trust and who understands your values? Are they local to you?  It does not make much sense if your designee is in Alabama, has no passport, and would have to ask directions to get to Mexico.

What kinds of things would you wish be done for you if you were not mentally here enough to decide?

 There are many durable power of attorney forms for health care available online that you can download and these can act as a starting point, for your own list. They are helpful in mentioning items you may have not thought about, such as permission to move you back to the States, access to medical files, and many others, such as dealing with medical insurance companies on both sides of the border or even an emergency evacuation.

Consider having a document drafted in both English and Spanish, so it can be read by anyone around here.  Having one such document, clearly expressing your preferences, may make the difference in many meaningful ways. And yes, pulling the plug can be spelled out here also.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (with a Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to the tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at