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Understanding a power of attorney for health care

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Estate Planning

Most adults want to make decisions about their health care for themselves. Few consider what will happen if they are incapacitated and cannot advocate on behalf of their own needs, values and preferences. It’s possible for you to take steps to ensure you know who will make those decisions for you in such an event.

There are a few things that you should consider when you’re preparing to fill out a power of attorney form that designates someone to make decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated due to illness or injury.

Who should you name in your power of attorney document?

Naming a power of attorney for health care gives that person the legal ability to make decisions about your medical care if you can’t make those decisions for yourself. You should choose someone who will make decisions that are in your best interests. They shouldn’t make decisions that are self-serving.

Ideally, you’ll choose someone who lives close to you so they can make decisions in person. You’ll have to ensure that they understand your wishes so they can uphold them. It may behoove you to discuss these wishes with them to give them a chance to ask questions about what you’ll want in certain situations.

What can your power of attorney do?

The person who you name as power of attorney can make all health care decisions for you unless you have already specifically addressed a particular wish in a legal document like a DNR or a living will. You should also have an advance directive that outlines your wishes for medical care. Once you provide this document, your medical team will follow those wishes.

Your power of attorney will factor into the equation if there are decisions to make that aren’t covered in that document. Certain decisions, such as restrictions on resuscitation, require special forms.

Taking the time to get your affairs in order is beneficial for you and your loved ones. By giving them a clear plan for your final days and your assets after you die can help reduce their stress during this time. It’s crucial that everything is documented properly, so be sure you work with someone who can help you ensure this is done.