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What Is Health Care Power of Attorney?

what is health care power of attorney

When faced with a medical emergency, it may be impossible for individuals to make decisions on their own. When this occurs, it is essential that a medical power of attorney be in place so family members do not end up spending valuable time and resources trying to figure out your wishes; otherwise, disputes and disagreements over which treatments should be pursued could arise between family members.

Setting up a health care power of attorney enables someone you trust to act as your advocate, pushing for the type of treatment you would desire in a given circumstance. Furthermore, this gives medical staff peace of mind that they’re honoring your wishes should you become incapacitated. Depending on state law, this document can grant the person you select decision-making powers or any specific instructions they should adhere to on your behalf.

This document can also give your agent the power to withdraw or agree to any type of treatment, even if it leads to death. Having such a document in place is extremely useful and you should select someone you trust fully for this role; additionally, backup agents should be listed just in case their primary choice cannot or does not wish to serve.

Although some may find the idea of creating a healthcare power of attorney unnerving, having one is an invaluable way to ensure your wishes are carried out and makes for an excellent addition to a living will.

Health care power of attorney documents allow your agent to gain access to any medical records of minor children if necessary – this can be especially helpful when the parents of hospitalized youngsters are unavailable to make decisions on their behalf.

Health care powers of attorney are recognized in most states. Each state offers different forms, but they all include an authorization section which gives an agent the power to communicate with medical professionals and release protected health information in accordance with HIPAA regulations. Signing this document typically requires two witnesses’ witness signatures and takes effect as soon as it’s signed. Keep a copy in your healthcare file as well as providing copies to your doctor, health care agent and back-up agents. Such documents will save time in an emergency situation and prevent family disagreements over what you might want for yourself or loved ones. Furthermore, keep copies stored safely away; update them whenever you move or change agents.