Health Care Power of Attorney
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A Health Care Power of Attorney, also known as a Medical Power of Attorney, is a document that we prepare for our clients to assist with incapacity planning. This document is a contract that is signed during life while the Principal has capacity to legally make their own decisions. With this document, our client, the Principal, designates an Agent to make medical decisions on their behalf if they eventually become incapacitated in the future. This document is of the utmost importance, as it protects our client’s during life.
Without a valid, properly executed document, you won’t have a backup listed to make medical decisions for you. If you become incapacitated, your family or loved ones will need to file for a guardianship over you so that they can ensure you get the care that you deserve and need. This process can take several months and can cost thousands of dollars. A Health Care Power of Attorney is a much better option and is included in any of our Estate Plans.
The Powers of Attorney document that we provide our clients with also includes a general HIPAA waiver, organ donation instruction, and a Mental Health Care Power of Attorney. A HIPAA release allows your Agent to access your private medical history, to ensure that your Agent is making decisions based on your whole medical situation. This also allows the doctors to be forthright with your Agent without fear of repercussions to them. The organ donation instruction directs your Agent to follow guidelines that you have established with regards to organ donation. The Mental Health Care document is an optional designation that allows your Agent to get you psychiatric care if you develop a mental or dementia-related illness.
We recommend that you always have at least two Agents listed on your Power of Attorney, in case your first choice for Agent isn’t available for any reason. If your first Agent becomes unavailable, you will still be protected because you have planned accordingly. The designated Agents can be anyone you want them to be, though we recommend that you speak to this person in advance and make sure they are willing to be your Agent. It is also important that you choose someone you trust that will have your best interest in mind. While a married couple will usually name their spouse as first Agent, you and your spouse don’t need to have the same backups listed on your documents.
In summary, all of the items listed above group together to form a complete Health Care Power of Attorney. Our attorneys use our experience to ensure that you are always in control of your decisions, and that you are protected should you face a span of incapacity.
The Health Care Power of Attorney is just one aspect of a complete Estate Plan. We include it in all of our packages, but it is also available as a stand alone document.