Medical Power of Attorney: What it Is and Why it’s Important
Life is full of twists and turns. You know you’ll face some challenges along the way. Some you can anticipate; others come suddenly and unexpectedly. Few things in your life are more important than your health. Likewise, few things can be more fragile. If your body and mind start to deteriorate, you want to make sure you and your loved ones are taken care of. Thanks to the medical power of attorney, someone can act on your behalf to make critical decisions when you physically or mentally can’t.
Medical power of attorney is a legal document where you, as the principal, would grant authority to another person to make decisions about your health in the event that you cannot. You can create and sign this document at any time, though it is best to not delay and to be prepared. The medical power of attorney is similar to other power of attorney documents, though it is specific to matters related to your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Whom to Appoint
As the principal, you would designate an agent to act in your name when you become incapacitated. The agent is someone you should trust without reservation. This should be a person you know would carry out your wishes and desires without question. Choose someone with integrity, honesty, and good judgment. Usually, a person’s agent would be a family member such as a spouse, child, or sibling. It could also be a close friend or business associate. This is a serious matter, so make sure you select an agent that you will feel good about and will never have to doubt their intentions.
Types of Health Care Decisions
If you fall ill or become otherwise unable to perform routine tasks, it can give you and other loved ones peace of mind by signing a medical power of attorney. In this document, you can spell out what decisions you will allow the agent to make. This may include when to put you under a doctor’s care, when to take you to an assisted care facility, when to take you off life support, when to change your medication, or whether to have surgery. Keep in mind that the agent can’t step in your place until a doctor deems that you are unable to make these choices yourself.