Planning ahead is about preparing for the future today. Getting a Health Care Power of Attorney is an important issues you can address today to plan ahead. A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that allows you, the principal, to give a trusted individual the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to due to incapacity. This trusted individual is known as the agent or attorney-in-fact.
A Health Care Durable Power of Attorney allows the attorney-in-fact to make many important decisions, including (1) give informed consent for health care decisions, (2)
access medical records, (3) manage health care service providers, (4) arrange for in-home care if needed, or (5) authority to admit and discharge from medical facilities.
If you have not prepared a one and you become incapacitated, it will be too late for you to name an attorney-in-fact. It may be difficult for your health care to be managed and the court may have to appoint a guardian. This process often is intrusive and expensive.
An agent or attorney-in-fact should also be familiar with the principal’s personal preferences regarding health care decisions, including difficult end of life decisions. A principal may also prepare a Living Will, also known as a Health Care Directive, to help make these preferences clear by putting them in writing.
When preparing their Health Care Durable Power of Attorney, many clients select their spouse, an adult child, another family member, or a close friend. The principal can name two or more individuals as co-attorneys-in-fact and they can act together to handle health care affairs.