Health Care Power of Attorney
Your estate plan can protect more than just your financial assets. A comprehensive estate plan also includes documents to plan for your future health care needs. One of these critical documents is a health care power of attorney, also referred to as a medical power of attorney.
Huizenga Law prepares power of attorney documents that will enable a loved one to authorize treatment and make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or communicate decisions on your own. Here’s how these documents work.
Power Only When Needed
In a health care power of attorney, you name someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. That person is referred to as your attorney-in-fact, although they do not need to be a lawyer or have any legal training.
Your attorney-in-fact only speaks for you if the doctors determine that you are incapacitated. For instance, if you were in a car accident that put you in a coma, the person named in your health care power of attorney document can inform the doctors about your preferences for treatment, consent to tests, and make medical decisions for you while you are not able to speak for yourself.
Power Can Be Changed or Revoked
As long as you remain legally competent, you can:
- Change the terms of your power of attorney
- Change the person designated as your attorney-in-fact-
- Revoke the power of attorney
If you change or revoke your power of attorney, you should inform your doctors and your attorney-in-fact.
Health Care Power of Attorney Can Avoid the Need for Guardianship
When a loved one suffers from a condition that makes them unable to care for their own needs, families often need to seek guardianship to gain the legal authority to provide proper care. However, if that individual has executed a medical power of attorney, then their attorney-in-fact may assist without legal proceedings.
A durable financial power of attorney can provide the same protection for financial matters, avoiding the need for conservatorship. Both types of power of attorney should be executed as “durable,” meaning that they remain effective even if you become incapacitated.
Coordination with Other Health Care Documents
A health care power of attorney is an advance directive. It sets out your wishes ahead of time, before decisions need to be made. Another type of advance directive is a living will. Where a power of attorney document authorizes someone to make legal decisions for you, the living will provides instructions for the type of care you would want to receive in certain situations. These documents work hand-in-hand to provide guidance and authority to your health care attorney-in-fact.
Let Huizenga Law Protect You with a Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney is a simple tool that can allow your family to help you in a medical emergency. You may receive treatment more promptly, and your care will be in line with your wishes.
Huizenga Law can prepare a health care power of attorney and other documents to protect your medical autonomy and ensure that you receive the care you would want if a crisis arises. Contact us today to learn more about the ways we can help you stay prepared for an unknown future.