One of the most common forms of Power of Attorney in use today is the ‘medical’ or ‘healthcare’ Power of Attorney. A healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to authorize an agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated and unable to do so. The authorization conferred on your agent can cover any form of healthcare decision and (unlike a Living Will) applies even where you are not terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It also applies in cases of temporary unconsciousness (if you were in an accident, for instance) or in case of mental diseases like Alzheimer’s disease which affects the decision-making process. The important point to remember is that it does not automatically terminate if you become incapacitated – in other words, it’s durable!
With a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you can specify guidelines and directions regarding the medical treatment that you want to receive during any period in which you are unable to make healthcare decisions on your own behalf. Save in the most extreme cases, your agent will be obliged to follow these instructions. You can also give your agent full freedom to make healthcare decisions on your behalf during any period in which you are incapacitated.
It should be remembered that while a healthcare Power of Attorney allows your agent to make medical decisions for you while you are incapacitated, it odes not give your agent authority to make financial decisions for you. The same applies for vice versa for powers of attorney for finance and property (i.e. general and limited powers of attorney).
For more information on Healthcare Powers of Attorney, read some of the other articles on Powers of Attorney on this website. Remember, a durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is included in every good estate plan!
Healhcare Power of Attorney & Living Will Kit
This kit allows you to appoint a trusted family member or friend to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are are unconscious, mentally incompetent or otherwise unable to do so yourself. You can also instruct medical personnel in relation to end-of-life treatment preferences.