Although it is unpleasant to think about, there is a possibility that you may be seriously injured, sick, or otherwise unable to make decisions regarding your medical treatment. You may become unconscious, lapse into a coma, or develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
If you do become incapacitated, you might need someone you trust to make important healthcare decisions for you.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney) is one of three "advance directives" regarding your medical decision-making (the others are a Living Will and a Do Not Resuscitate order). These advance directives give guidance to your loved ones and healthcare providers regarding your medical treatment.
The Healthcare Power of Attorney designates an attorney-in-fact, also known as a Healthcare Proxy or a “patient advocate,” to make medical decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated.
The document only becomes effective when you are unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for yourself. In a particular situation, your healthcare provider will determine whether you are competent to make an informed decision about your medical care.
The Choice of a Patient Advocate Is Not Always Obvious.
In one estate planning conference a client spoke about how proud she was of each of her children. But it was clear that she was especially proud of the son who had become a physician. She told me about the prestigious university he attended and the large hospital where he practiced.
When it came time to naming her patient advocate, I naturally assumed it would be her son, the doctor. "Heavens, no," she exclaimed. "When it's my time to go I want to go peacefully. If I left it up to my son he would want to try this procedure or he would want to try that that operation. He would do all kinds of things to keep me alive. No, I want his no-nonsense sister to be my Patient Advocate. She will know when it’s time to let me go."
You can choose any person over age 18 to be your proxy, as long as that person is NOT your healthcare provider or an employee of your health care provider (unless the person is a relative).
It is important to remember that your Healthcare Proxy only has the authority to act for you while you are unable to do so. If you regain the ability to make your own decisions, the authority of the Healthcare Proxy ends. In addition, they do not have the authority to stop medical treatment unless you have specifically provided for this power in your Healthcare Power of Attorney.
The person you choose as your Healthcare Proxy should be familiar with your values, beliefs, and healthcare preferences, and should be someone you trust to act in accordance with them. They should also be someone that will be able to make difficult decisions when the time comes. Usually people choose a close friend or relative.
You need to create your Healthcare Power of Attorney in writing, designating your agent (healthcare proxy) and perhaps an alternate agent.
The document has to be witnessed by two adults, at least one of which CANNOT be any of the following:
It is not necessary to get the document notarized.
If you do not have someone you feel you can trust to act as your Healthcare Proxy, then you might want to consider a Living Will.
If you live in Michigan and need experienced estate planning help, contact Michael Einheuser for a free consultation. Michael helps families in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Township, and the surrounding Michigan areas.
Schedule your Free Consultation today: (248) 398-4665.Return from the Healthcare Power of Attorney article to the Home page by clicking here.