Medical powers of attorney (or health care power of attorney) are legal documentation that enables you to give an individual legal authority to make important decisions concerning your medical care. These decisions might be about treatment alternatives, medication, surgery, supportive care, and more. The person you designate in your power of attorney to make these decisions is known as your health care agent or delegate.
We’ll never know when something unanticipated might happen to us, such as a sudden injury or ailment. Having a medical power of attorney, you’re creating contentment for yourself and your loved ones by picking an individual you trust to make important decisions for you should you be unable to do so yourself.
When devising a medical power of attorney, a lot of people opt to make it durable. With a durable medical power of attorney it means your agent’s authority to act in your name continues if you’re debilitated — meaning you can’t convey your wishes. Your agent is going to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf throughout a time you’re unable to communicate for yourself. A lot of courts presume a medical power of attorney is durable by definition, but it’s best to be specific when devising your document.
Subject to where you live, medical powers of attorney could also be known as:
- Power of attorney for health care
- Advance directive
- Advance health care directive
- Medical power of attorney directive
Medical powers of attorney is just one kind of power of attorney.
At what time does your medical power of attorney go into effect?
A durable medical power of attorney goes into effect once you’re debilitated. This might include when you:
- Were under a general anesthetic
- Had an ailment that left you incapable of communicating, like a stroke
- Had an accident that left you in an unconscious state or comatose
- Ae suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia that affects your ability to make logical decisions
Why do you require a medical power of attorney?
There are a lot of reasons why it’s wise to devise a medical POA prior to you needing it. Here are the top reasons you may want to think about:
For peace of mind.
If you become too ill or injured to manage care on your own, your loved ones may have to get involved and make decisions on your behalf. When you don’t have a medical power of attorney, this usually requires court proceedings, in which can take time and be costly. Your loved ones might also be left trying to surmise what type of care you want, causing stress throughout an already difficult time. By designating a trusted individual to take on the role as your health care agent prior to you actually needing one, you can create peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.
To get ready for a significant medical procedure.
When you are planning for a surgery, you might want to choose a health care agent for making medical decisions for you because you won’t be able to give consent under a general anesthetic. If you wish, you can rescind the power of attorney after your recovery.
To address concerns following you being diagnosed with a degenerative condition.
Alzheimer’s, cancers, ALS, and Huntington’s disease are all conditions that is going to eventually make it impossible for you to comprehend or agree to medical treatment. Following diagnosis, you might want to devise a medical power of attorney as long as you’re still feeling well and are able to convey your wishes for your care.
What is your health care agent able to do?
Your health care agent is legally obligated to act in the best interests of you. The amount f control they have concerning your medical care is up to you. You could create your power of attorney in a way that enables your agent to make any decision concerning your medical care. Or you can put forth restrictions and timelines on the power of your agent.
If you opt, you can enable your health care agent to make decision to:
- What medical care you get, compromising of surgery, medical medications, prescriptions, and at home health care
- The facilities where you are going to you receive medical care
- The doctors and other providers that monitor your medical care
- Where you reside, a long with assisted living, nursing homes, or residential long-standing care
- Who will care for your day to day needs, like eating and bathing
If you’ve designated a separate financial power of attorney to manage your finances, your health care agent is going to likely work along side them to ensure you are able afford the care selected for you.
Medical Power of Attorney vs. Guardianship
A medical power of attorney enables you to plan for your medical care in the future, in the possibility you’re ever unable to make decisions on your own. In the meantime, a guardian is an individual that is legally obligated for ensuring all your requirements are met, from medical care to your emotional well-being. A guardian only becomes pertinent for you as an adult if you were debilitated not having a medical power of attorney. If this happened, the court may intervene to designate a guardian for you.
Medical Power of Attorney vs. Living Will
A living will is legal documentation that lets you summarize your end-of-life health care choices in case you’re unable to convey them. This will include medical treatments and medications you’re willing (or declining) to receive.
Medical powers of attorney, at the same time, are legal documentation that lets you designate a health care agent for making decisions concerning your medical care for you.
These 2 documents can work in unison: when you have a living will and a medical power of attorney, the decisions your health care agent needs to make must line up with your wishes in your living will. Living wills and medical powers of attorney can be combined into a single document, known as the advance health care directive.
Medical Power of Attorney vs. Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney allows you enable an individual the legal authority to make financial decisions should be unable to. This may comprise of handling of finances, defending lawsuits, and bill payments.
A medical power of attorney, at the same time, only enables your agent to make decisions concerning your medical matters.
Wong, B. (2021, February 10). What Is Medical Power of Attorney? LegalZoom. https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-is-medical-power-of-attorney.
Choose the Right Attorney in Arizona
Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important you make the best choice for you when hiring an attorney. Remember: The decisions you make now can affect your future. Ultimately, choosing the best lawyer will depend on which lawyer feels best for you and your situation.