A medical power of attorney is a legal document (also called a healthcare power of attorney or durable power of attorney for healthcare) that names an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf, explains Yahoo Finance’s recent article, “How to Set Up Medical Power of Attorney.” A medical power of attorney gives a family member or a trusted friend (a “healthcare agent”) the legal authority to make health decisions for you.
This isn’t the same as a living will, which is a document that details what you’d like your healthcare team to do, if you become incapacitated. You may have a living will and a medical power of attorney. If decisions must be made about resuscitation and life support, recording those wishes in a living will, removes those difficult decisions from your agent.
When you’re thinking about a person to be your healthcare agent, find someone with whom you’re comfortable discussing health-related issues. Select a person you trust with your life and who will assume this responsibility if and when the time comes. Your agent must be your advocate, execute your wishes and make wise decisions, even when friends and family are telling them otherwise.
Here are some general guidelines for healthcare agents that you should avoid. Don’t choose:
- Your healthcare provider or the person who owns a health or residential facility in which you’re residing;
- A person whose job it is to medically evaluate you, such as a physician;
- A person who works for a government agency that is financially responsible for your care unless she’s a blood relative;
- The same person as your court-approved guardian or conservator; or
- A person who’s already a healthcare agent for more than 10 other people.
It’s important to also name a backup agent, in the event that your primary healthcare agent can’t make decisions on your behalf.
The medical power of attorney is one of several documents that should be part of your estate plan. Meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure that you have the correctly prepared documents you need to protect yourself and your family.
Reference: Yahoo Finance (May 8, 2019) “How to Set Up Medical Power of Attorney”