Incapacity planning is a major component of an estate plan. Quite often people name one person to serve as a health care agent and another person to serve as a financial agent. What role does one agent have as opposed to the other in the context of contracting for medical services?
While the Probate Code does not provide a bright line, a recently-published California case explores the question in the context of the admission of a patient to a residential care facility for the elderly. The Third District Court of Appeal, in Hutcheson v. Eskaton FountainWood Lodge (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 937, found that the health care agent was the one authorized to admit the patient and the facility’s failure to obtain consent from that agent nullified an arbitration clause, thus exposing the facility to litigation in Superior Court.