A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document created to appoint an individual, known as your agent, to handle your medical affairs while you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so yourself. It allows you to name a person you trust to make important decisions about your care. A Health Care Power of Attorney is different from a Living Will, which only allows you to express your wishes regarding medical care in an end of life situation.
One of the most important benefits of having a Health Care Power of Attorney is that it can prevent you and your family from being subjected to a Guardianship proceeding. In a Guardianship proceeding, the court chooses who will make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. The person named by the court might not be someone you would have wanted to make these important decisions on your behalf. In addition, a Guardianship proceeding is a time-consuming, unnecessarily expensive and often stressful process for everyone involved. By having a properly prepared and implemented Health Care Power of Attorney in place, a person you choose in advance will make health care decisions for you, and your family will be spared the painful experience of going through Guardianship.
You must be a legal adult, 18 years of age or older, to make a valid Health Care Power of Attorney. (It must also be notarized.) In addition, you must also be of sound mindthat is, you must be able to understand what the document means, what it contains, and how it works when you sign it. The stipulations in your Health Care Power of Attorney will take effect only when you cannot communicate your wishes, a doctor determines you cannot give informed consent, or it has been determined you are legally incapacitated.
Contact us today for assistance with designing and implementing your Health Care Power of Attorney. We can also help you determine the ideal person to serve as your agent if you are unsure who you want to make health care decisions for you.