Many of our clients are relieved to know that someone will be able to help them with medical decisions if they are too ill to make those decisions themselves. However, they still have many questions. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about medical powers of attorney:
When is a medical power of attorney effective?
The medical power of attorney is effective when you are so incapacitated that you are unable to make those decisions yourself. This power of attorney ends at death but for the power to donate your organs.
My mother has a health care power of attorney. Is this the same thing?
Yes, absolutely. The power of attorney for health care, health care power of attorney, and medical power of attorney all are the same document.
Who should I name as my health care agent?
Choose someone who cares about you and who is comfortable communicating with medical professionals. Often, the health care agent must be assertive with medical personnel to get your wishes honored.
I have a medical power of attorney, do I still need a living will?
If you know that you don’t want your life artificially extended with medical heroics, then it is likely in your best interest to have a living will.
While your agent under your medical power of attorney may be able to make this decision, it relieves a great burden from your agent’s shoulders if you make your own decision when you can and ensures that your wishes are followed. In addition, having a living will avoids family infighting.
Can my health care agent change my living will?
Your health care agent cannot change your living will or override your decision. Your agent steps up and makes decisions for you only if you haven’t already made the decision for yourself and cannot do so at the time the decision needs to be made.
If you have further questions about living wills or health care powers of attorney, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.