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Making a Healthcare Power of Attorney
Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA) documents are used to appoint a specific person or persons to make medical choices on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This document, sometimes also called a Medical Power of Attorney, helps ensure that the healthcare choices made align with your wishes and are in your best interests.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney, also called a Medical 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.
Rocket Lawyer provides this Medical Power of Attorney document for your use at no cost. You can use it to appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. You have the ability to name someone as your Agent, name a different person as an alternate Agent, to carve out exceptions to the medical decision-making authority (if any), and to clarify whether you would prefer your Agent to be appointed as your guardian if necessary.
This document can be made suitable for any state. You can use this document if:
Anyone over the age of 18 should have a Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA) if they want to dictate what kinds 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.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself before making your Medical Power of Attorney. 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 may ask yourself:
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, fulfill 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.
Check your state's laws for any limitations on who can sign this document. For the most part, the person signing it should be an adult of sound mind (meaning sane or rational) and have no interest in your estate. Some states may have any one or more of the following restrictions, meaning a witness cannot be:
The Medical Power of Attorney lasts for as long as the terms of the document, if it specifies. For example, the person who created the document, also called the Principal, could include that the authority lasts only until he/she/they are out of surgery and have recovered from anesthesia. Alternatively, if the document only becomes active upon the incapacitation of the Principal, and the document does not contain an end date, then the Medical Power of Attorney will continue for the duration of the Principal's life.
In the medical field, POA stands for Power of Attorney. It is a legally binding document that allows you to name a person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make these decisions for yourself.
In some cases, a Medical Power of Attorney grants control over financial accounts in order to pay medical bills and other obligations. However, the person making decisions is doing so as an Agent on behalf of the person granting the authority (the Principal). The agent may not become personally responsible for the medical bills, unless some kind of negligence or recklessness occurs.
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.
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.