When you think of the various documents inherent in estate planning, a medical power of attorney probably is not the first one that comes to your mind. Nevertheless, the importance of this document cannot be overstated. This is especially true during the new normal of the continuing pandemic caused by COVID-19 and its Omicron variant.
Since you never know if and when you’ll become ill, injured or otherwise incapacitated, or how serious the situation will be, having a medical power of attorney in place is your greatest protection.
What Is a Medical Power of Attorney?
A medical power of attorney, sometimes called a health care power of attorney, is a legally binding document wherein you name the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. For instance, you might give this person, called your agent, proxy or attorney-in-fact, one or more of the following powers:
- Decide the types of medical care you receive, such as surgery, medications, treatments, therapies, home health care, etc.
- Decide where you receive your medical care, such as at home, in an assisted living facility, in a nursing home, etc.
- Decide which doctors and other health care professionals oversee your medical care.
- Decide who, if any, provides help for your everyday needs, such as eating, bathing, etc.
Keep in mind that your medical power of attorney does not give your agent carte blanche authority to do whatever he or she wants to do. Rather, this person operates in a fiduciary capacity, meaning that he or she must always put your best interests ahead of his or her own.
Why Might You Want to Create a Medical Power of Attorney?
The main value of signing a medical power of attorney is that it gives you — and your family — peace of mind. For instance, you may wish to consider creating a medical power of attorney if you have been diagnosed with a degenerative disease or if you face major surgery.
With a medical power of attorney in place, you and your family know that no matter what happens to you that causes your incapacity, you have a trusted person in place that will make wise decisions about your care.
Revoking Your Medical Power of Attorney
You can, if you wish, revoke your medical power of attorney at any time after you create it. This knowledge gives you additional peace of mind.
Creating a Living Will
Most people choose to create a living will to complement their medical power of attorney. Unlike a last will and testament that designates who will inherit from you when you die and what they will inherit, your living will, often called an advance health care directive, lists the specific types of medical care, treatments and interventions you want and don’t want. Obviously, such a document gives your agent guidance when making medical decisions on your behalf.
Complying With State Law
Each state has its own laws and rules regarding both living wills and medical powers of attorneys. Consequently, you need sound legal advice and counsel regarding how these documents must be structured in your state. AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc. can provide exactly that. Our nationwide network of experienced estate planning attorneys are fully prepared to help you with all your needs.