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What is a Medical Power of Attorney / Health Care Proxy?

Planning ahead for medical issues or financial well-being makes sense as we age. There are a number of options available in order to do this. Some of the more common approaches involve granting a trusted person power of attorney duties in order to help maintain your assets, financial well-being, and medical care. There are several designations for power of attorney duties, and the designations are important. Essentially, they outline what the duties are and how they should be carried out. There is general power of attorney designations, durable power of attorneys, springing power of attorney designations, and medical power of attorney. We will examine the last designation, the medical power of attorney, commonly referred to as the health care proxy or health care surrogate. 

A medical power of attorney, or Health Care Proxy, is a legal document that gives the “agent” the legal authority to make medical decisions for the grantor or principal. It is different from other types of power of attorney because it deals specifically with health care. It only comes into effect when the principal is no longer able to make medical decisions. It is important to bestow these duties on someone trustworthy.  

Why Do I Need a Medical Power of Attorney?

It may be difficult to consider a time where speaking or making your wishes known will be difficult or impossible to do, but it does happen. There could be a situation where you fall into a coma or suffer a mental illness that makes healthcare decisions hard to make. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can also impact a person’s ability to make healthcare decisions for themselves. Appointing a medical power of attorney can help your family deal with the difficult decisions that go along with these kinds of issues. 

A medical power of attorney/health care proxy/health care surrogate can be appointed for both short-terms issues, like complications during surgery while under anesthesia and long-term health issues. The agent acts within the provision of the document, which can include things like decisions on long-term care facilities, medications and treatments, and how much medical care a person would like to undergo. 

For instance, most people have an idea of what kind of medical care they want and how long they want it to continue. They should know your views on healthcare, and any religious obligations and values that may be there, and how they play out. It is important to choose someone who will comply with the wishes of the principal and will follow-through. 

Who Should I Chose to be My Healthcare Proxy?

When choosing a medical power of attorney, it should be someone over the age of 18 and someone who is willing to take on the duties. It is a large responsibility, and some people may not want to take it on. It is important to figure that out before a person is given the designation. The person you choose may be making life support decisions for you someday. These are important decisions, so it is vital to pick the correct person. 

A medical power of attorney/health care proxy/health care surrogate can work together with a living will. A living will can provide guidance to the person with medical power of attorney duties. Without a living will, and in cases where the medical power of attorney is not aware of your wishes, it will be up to them to make decisions for you without your input. 

Contact the Estate Planning Lawyers at The Mattar Firm

If you have come to the point in life where considering a medical power of attorney makes sense, consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney, like those at The Mattar Firm, can help make the decision easier and ensure you are choosing the right person. It is your medical care, after all, and what could be more important? Call today: (239) 222-2222. Or contact us on our website.


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