What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
A Healthcare Power of Attorney (also called a Medical Power of Attorney or in some states, a Healthcare Directive) is a document whereby one party, the Principal, grants another party, the “Agent” or “Attorney in Fact”, the power to make healthcare decisions for the Principal.
Similar to a financial power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney may be very expansive or limited in scope. A healthcare power of attorney may also be “Durable”, meaning a Principal who loses their cognitive or physical abilities to communicate decisions perhaps due to dementia or some other disability, may not revoke the powers previously granted to the Agent.
Additionally, similar to a financial power of attorney, some medical providers may be less inclined to act on a healthcare power of attorney more than a few years old. This is why we recommend you meet with your estate planning attorney every 2-4 year to update documents. Failure to keep documents current can cause the most well-designed estate plan to fail when needed most.