A medical power of attorney is a vital part of any estate plan, and is something you want to already have in place in the event you cannot make health care decisions for yourself. An estate law attorney can help to ensure your medical power of attorney addresses all of your wishes and some important issues that can arise if you become ill or incapacitated.
What is a Medical Power of Attorney?
Also known as power of attorney for health care, a medical POA enables you to designate an agent who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. You are never too young to have a power of attorney in place – unexpected accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone, and a medical power of attorney only goes into effect if you are unable to communicate your wishes. Most states do not permit any of your health care providers to be named as a POA agent, but you can choose any other trusted adult you wish.
Who Should You Choose?
Before choosing someone as your agent, it is important to discuss your wishes for medical care and end-of-life decisions. It is vital that this person is someone you trust who also respects your values and beliefs. Providing specific information about your health care needs and wishes can help make these decisions easier for your agent and take the burden off your loved ones.
Information Your Agent Needs to Know
A list of health care providers – Give your POA agent the names, phone numbers, and addresses of your primary care physician and any specialists you prefer to treat you. If there are any doctors or health providers you want to avoid, make sure to furnish a list of those as well.
Medical conditions – Inform your POA agent of chronic or current medical conditions you may have. That way, they will be well aware of any impact these conditions could have on your care.
Medical history – If you have had surgeries or treatment for serious illnesses like cancer, let your POA agent know and provide the dates that they occurred.
Medications and allergies – It is also a good idea to provide them with a list of all medications you are currently taking, and any allergies you have, including food allergies. If there are certain medications you wish to refuse, provide a list of those, too.
Beliefs and Values
It is essential to communicate your religious or spiritual beliefs and values to your POA agent. They may affect your choices about the type and extent of medical care you’d like to receive, whether you want a religious figure such as a pastor to be part of your medical team, and if there are any religious customs you would like to observe.
Treatment and End of Life Decisions
There are also some important questions you want to ask yourself about medical care and end-of-life decisions. Do you want life-sustaining measures such as CPR, a ventilator, or a feeding tube. Pain medications to keep you comfortable? In which circumstances would you want to stop these measures if you are ill or injured? Are these details clearly outlined in your advance directive?
Giving thoughtful consideration to these matters, being specific about your wishes, and seeking the counsel of a wills and estate attorney can help to ensure your medical POA agent understands what you want and your health and well-being are protected.
If you need assistance with your estate plan or drafting a medical power of attorney, our team of estate planning lawyers and probate attorneys can help.