A medical power of attorney, sometimes referred to as a healthcare power of attorney, is a legal document that allows you to give an appointed individual the legal authority to make important decisions regarding your medical care.
These decisions could be about anything regarding your healthcare such as treatment plans, medications, surgeries, end-of-life care, and more. When it comes to end-of-life care, it’s important to have a Healthcare Directive in place. A Healthcare Directive is also referred to by a variety of names including Advanced Directive, Directive to Physicians, and Living Will. It’s important to have this document in place so your wishes are known, and the burden of making your end-of-life decision doesn’t rest totally on your family or your healthcare agent. Instead, they can use your Healthcare Directive as a guide to help them make your healthcare decisions how you want them to.
The person you appoint to make these decisions is known as your healthcare agent, or proxy.
It’s important to have a medical power of attorney in place for everyone because you never know when something unexpected may happen such as a sudden accident, injury, or illness. By having this document in place with a trusted healthcare agent to make important decisions for you when you are no longer able to, you are creating peace of mind for yourself.
When creating a medical power of attorney, the majority of people choose to make it durable. What this means is that your agent’s authority to act on your behalf continues when you become incapacitated, and they would still be able to make medical decisions for you when you are not able to speak for yourself. This is what most people want: a trusted individual to be able to speak for them when they cannot speak for themselves. A lot of courts assume medical powers of attorney are durable, but it doesn’t hurt to explicitly say so in your document.