Who Should Have Authority over Your Health?

Aug 28, 2018 | Estate Planning, Health Care Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney

Being a POA is an awesome responsibility and needs careful consideration.

There are many key decisions required to complete a health plan.  However, the choice of putting someone in charge of your health care decisions, if needed, is right at the top of the list, according to The Daily Newsin “Choose Health Care Power of Attorney Carefully.”

The Durable Health Care Power of Attorney—H-POA—is similar to the general POA in that both can be used to provide your representative with either very broad or very limited acting authority.  However, they are also very different. The H-POA can be drafted to retain its effectiveness while you are alive and after you pass away.

The critical thing about an H-POA is the ability to tell the person you chose of your wishes about many different types of health and medical decisions. You can tell him or her exactly what medical treatments are acceptable to you or which you do not want to be used. That includes surgical intervention, autopsies, resuscitation, life support, organ donations and even whether to donate your body or specific portions of your body to science, medicine or education.

A less dramatic part of your H-POA concerns your representative’s right to access and disclose medical records.

The H-POA is a critical document that may make a life-or-death impact for you. In addition to selecting a person who you trust and count on to act as you wish, even if it is against their values, you’ll want to select an estate planning attorney who can create the document to achieve your health and medical wishes.

You do retain the right to revoke or change your H-POA at any time. You can do so verbally, by notifying your agent or your healthcare provider. It may be better to do this in writing. You can also draft a new H-POA, which revokes any previously written documents.

 However you chose to revoke the H-POA, make sure that your representative and estate planning attorney know that you wish to do this. This should be done in writing to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion.

If you use an H-POA, remember that it supersedes the directions and wishes of anyone except you: that includes your wife, your children, your next of kin and your healthcare provider.

If you chose to have lifesaving care, your agent cannot tell your doctor to withhold care.

You should choose your H-POA carefully and wisely. It is a good idea to let them know ahead of time, because it is a major responsibility. It could be a decision that they would like to have time to consider.

Resource: The Daily News (Memphis) July 25, 2018 “Choose Health Care Power of Attorney Carefully”