Medical Power of Attorney: What Is It? Do I Need One?

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Creating a will may not be something many people think of doing. Thinking about what to do with your property after you die is often not a person’s top priority. However, there is more to a will than distributing assets.

An important aspect of creating a will is going beyond your end-of-life care and designating a medical power of attorney. It is important to think about who will care for you in the event you become incapacitated at any age. Here are four things to know about a medical power of attorney.

What is it?

Appointing a health care power of attorney is similar to a will, but it gives a person the authority to act on your behalf. A living will can spell out what medical treatment you want at the end of your life if you are unable to make the decision at the time. A health care power of attorney appoints a person to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. While a living will is generally limited to end-of-life care, a medical power of attorney will act on your behalf for any kind of medical treatment you need.

Who needs one?

Everyone should appoint a medical power of attorney. Making this designation can help your loved ones make difficult decisions in the event you are incapacitated. If an accident or serious illness occurs, it can be hard for relatives to decide the best care. By designating a health care representative, a person can discuss with their representative what kind of care they would want. The representative will act on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Who should be appointed?

The person you appoint should be someone you can trust to make the best medical decisions for you and follow your wishes. If you do not want excessive measures taken to prolong your life, you need someone who will adhere to your instructions, rather than someone who will have a hard time declining a treatment you would not want. Likewise, you will want someone who can understand the best treatment for you in the event you are seriously injured and you would want to take reasonable measures to save your life. It is also a good idea to pick a backup person if your first choice is unavailable when you need one. Whoever you choose, be sure they know and understand your wishes and can carry them out.

Related link: How To Be a Powerful Patient Advocate

When should you appoint one?

A medical power of attorney is not just for making decisions for you at the end of your life. It can save your family pain and heartache if something happens to you at any stage of your life. Whenever you are creating a will, it is a good idea to also establish a medical power of attorney to be sure that your interests are looked out for at any age.

Planning for the end of your life or for a serious medical issue can be stressful. It is much easier to make the decisions before you are in need of help. Take the time to make your wishes known and put your mind at ease.

 

This article was originally published in the Orange County Register.

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