Everyone age 18 or older needs a health care power of attorney. While you are able, you’ll continue to make all your own health care decisions. But, if there comes a time that you are unable to make your own health care decisions, then a trusted loved one will make those decisions for you. If you want to control who makes those decisions, you need a power of attorney for health care.
Who should I name as my health care power of attorney agent?
You should appoint someone who loves you, is confident, and can communicate with medical personnel. When you are in the hospital, you need an advocate who will ensure that you get the medical care you need and deserve. Your agent should be someone who will ask your doctor for alternatives and not be afraid to seek a second or, even, third opinion.
When is my health care power of attorney effective?
Your health care power of attorney is effective when your doctor determines that you are not cable of making medical decisions. You may be unconscious, highly medicated, or otherwise unable to comprehend the medical issues at hand and communicate about them.
Do I need a living will if I have a health care power of attorney?
Yes, if you don’t want medical heroics such as life support if you are in an irreversible coma, persistent vegetative state, or otherwise terminal and at the very end of life, you need a living will. This removes a great burden from the shoulders of your health care agent. No one wants to “pull the plug” on a loved one.
If you have a living will or if you’ve made other medical decisions in advance (and in writing), those decisions are made. Your health care power of attorney agent cannot override them.