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Healthcare Power of Attorney basics

Healthcare Power of Attorney documents are used to assign a person to make medical choices for you should you become incapacitated. This document helps ensure that the healthcare choices made align with your wishes and are in your best interest.

Use the Healthcare Power of Attorney document if:

  • You want to appoint an agent to carry out your wishes regarding healthcare.
  • You are facing the possibility of surgery or a hospitalization.
  • You are aging or have declining health.
  • You have been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

If it is important to you that your healthcare wishes be carried out even if you cannot voice your opinion, you should appoint an agent or proxy to make choices for you should you be become unable. It is simple to make this document using Rocket Lawyer. You simply need to appoint your agents and choose a witness to sign the document with you. Our documents can be made suitable for any state.

Other names for a Healthcare Power of Attorney:

Medical Power of Attorney, Healthcare POA, Healthcare Proxy

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA)?

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is used to appoint a person to make medical choices for you should you ever become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. This person, called an agent, will be able to make choices for you such as whether you should be admitted into a care facility, what treatments you'll receive, whether you'll receive experimental treatments, or if your medical providers will be allowed to connect you to machines to keep you alive.

Who should have a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

Anyone over the age of 18 should have a healthcare POA if they want to dictate want kind of choices may be made for them. Healthcare POAs are not just for those who are already ill or advancing in age. Anyone could become incapacitated from a car accident, sports injury, mental illness or a violent act. No one likes to think about these things, but it is better to think about it now because you may not have a choice later.

What decisions do I need to make before making a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

There are a few questions you should ask yourself before making your Healthcare POA. While this document does not dictate exactly what medical choices are made for you, it does appoint someone to make those choices for you.

You should ask yourself:

  • Who should be my agent(s)?
  • Do I want my agent to have access to my medical records?
  • Can my agent admit me to a long-term care facility?
  • Are there any additional authorizations I want to give them? Such as, can they consent to an autopsy?
  • Will my agent also be my guardian?
  • Can my agent consent for me to participate in medical research or clinical trials?
  • Can they authorize the donation of my organs?
  • Who should be my witness?

Who should I appoint as my Healthcare POA agent?

Choosing an agent can be difficult. Often spouses or siblings have a hard time making difficult decisions on behalf of a loved one. Plus, you need someone who understands the responsibility of being a healthcare agent and is willing to accept the task. You need someone confident and assertive enough to enforce your wishes, which may be against the wishes of loved ones or their own beliefs. It may be difficult to find one person who fits your criteria. To make it even more challenging, you actually should appoint two agents. You need two agents in case the first one cannot, for whatever reasons, fulfil their duties. The first step is to clearly outline your wishes. The second is to discuss those wishes with your agent candidates to help you decide who your two agents should be. It is also helpful if your agent lives close enough to be there when you need them.

Who can sign as a witness to a Healthcare POA?

There are limitations on who can sign this document. For the most part, the signee should be an adult of sound mind and have no interest in your estate. Your witness CANNOT be:

  • Related to you by blood or marriage
  • Entitled to any part of your estate
  • A beneficiary of your life insurance or other type of payout
  • Financially benefited by your death
  • Responsible for your medical care financially
  • One of your healthcare providers
  • The agent or backup agent

Healthcare Power of Attorney vs. General Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is used to appoint someone to manage your healthcare choices. A General Power of Attorney is used to appoint someone to manage your financial matters. You should have both included with the rest of your important documents.

Healthcare POA vs Healthcare Proxy vs Living Will vs Advance Directive

You may hear these terms used together or interchangeably at times. Basically, a Healthcare POA and appointing a Healthcare Proxy are roughly the same thing. In each case, you are appointing someone to make healthcare choices for you. Living Wills and Advance Directives are similar in that they contain detailed instructions about the care you want and also name a POA or Proxy.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is just one part of your estate planning documents. For more documents such as Last Will and Testament, Living Trust, Durable Power of Attorney, and Codicil to Will see our essential estate planning forms.

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