Health Care Durable Power of Attorney
A health care durable power of attorney is the document where you state who will be your “attorney-in-fact” and make health care decisions for you if you become disabled. In this context, “disabled” means that a doctor has made a written statement that you are unable to manage your financial affairs. Only upon this determination would your attorney-in-fact have the authority to make decisions for you.
If you do not have a power of attorney and become disabled, you will likely have to go through a guardianship, which is the court process to appoint a decision-maker (guardian) for you. A guardianship can be very expensive, time-consuming, and can seriously limit your legal rights. In other words, it is worth avoiding if possible. Along with a financial durable power of attorney, a health care durable power of attorney is the best way to protect yourself from having to go through a guardianship.
The goal is that you never need to use a health care durable power of attorney. However, if it is needed, it’s very important and saves a lot of money and frustration for your family. When you appoint your attorney-in-fact, you must make sure that it is a person who is 100% trustworthy and will make all decisions in your best interests.
Examples of decisions or actions your health care attorney-in-fact may make for you or take on your behalf:
- Giving consent to surgery
- Hiring caregivers for you
- Hiring or firing medical professionals
- Determining what types of medication you should take
- Accessing and disclosing your medical records