Health Care Power of Attorney
Ensure Your Medical Needs Will Be Met
Accidents, unfortunately, happen all the time. And the COVID pandemic taught us that serious illness can take anyone by surprise, even when they seem to be in perfect health. If you fell and hit your head and were unconscious, or were ill and in a coma, doctors might have to spend considerable time getting authorization to treat you.
Eventually, a family member would probably be allowed to approve treatment, but medical personnel could waste valuable time trying to determine who should be in charge. And family members might disagree about how doctors should treat your condition.
The delays could make your medical situation substantially worse. Moreover, the anguish to family members who are unable to help can be heartbreaking.
But there is a way to prevent this from happening.
A Legal Solution to Medical Problems
Many people are surprised to learn that estate planning attorneys help not only with distributing property after death but also protecting health and meeting a variety of needs during life. Huizenga Law works to protect our clients in all phases of life by anticipating potential challenges and making preparations to overcome those challenges.
Medical emergencies are one instance where a legal solution can help manage medical difficulties. We can prepare a health care power of attorney that enables a loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it. But if you are not able to make or communicate decisions, then doctors will not have to waste precious time trying to guess who should be in charge.
Protection and Peace of Mind
Having a health care power of attorney can protect your health and provide peace of mind for the whole family. This type of advance directive can:
- Prevent the need for lengthy and expensive guardianship proceedings
- Avoid delays in health care treatment
- Prevent disagreements among family about who should be authorized to make medical decisions for you
- Provide authority to reinforce choices expressed in a living will
Instead of feeling powerless and uncertain, your loved ones will be able to assist in your time of need.
How a Health Care Power of Attorney Works
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.
Your doctor can keep a copy of this document in your file, and it is also helpful to bring it if you are scheduled for surgery or hospitalized for an illness or other condition.
A Power of Attorney 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.
Avoiding the Need for Guardianship
If you suffered from a condition that made you unable to care for your own needs, your family might have to seek guardianship to gain the legal authority to provide proper care. Courts do not like to grant guardianship because it strips individuals of their rights, so the law requires families to go through an expensive process to prove that guardianship is necessary.
However, if you have executed a health care power of attorney, the person you have designated as your attorney-in-fact can help you 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.
You Health Care Power of Attorney Should Coordinate 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.
Huizenga Law Can Protect Your Health and Help Preserve Your Autonomy 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 you can instruct your designated decision-maker about your preferences so the care you receive 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.