What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) refers to both a legal document and the person named in the legal document which empowers the named individual to speak with others and make decisions about your medical condition, treatment, and care. When you, the patient or creator of the HCPA, become to ill to communicate your wishes about your medical care to others, the HCPA is activated and the person named in the document has the power to make life and death decisions. A HCPA allows the proxy to communicate with the doctors, prevent unwanted treatments, avoid making wrong decisions, and make medical decisions in the event you are incapacitated.

A HCPA can outline specific directives, such as your wish to have or not have life-saving measures in the event you are unable to breathe on your own, or more general insights into your beliefs, morals, and ethical values.

Why you need a HCPA?

Appointing a HCPA provides peace of mind to yourself as well as your loved ones. By naming a HCPA you can be confident that in the event you are unable to communicate with a medical provider, a trusted individual with your best interest in mind will be in place to communicate with others for the sake of your wellbeing. Having a HCPA lets everyone, including your doctors, know your exact wishes regarding big medical decisions if you are unable to communicate.

Additionally, naming a HCPA removes the burden from your loved ones of having to make difficult medical decisions because they no longer have to try and guess what your wishes are. Creating a HCPA provides you peace of mind and is a gift to your loved ones.

Who should you choose?

When choosing a HCPA is is important to appoint an individual whom you trust. The person you list as your HCPA becomes your agent or healthcare proxy and may be charged with making life-and-death decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes regarding your medical care and treatment.

Anyone may serve as a HCPA. For example, a friend, partner, relative, or colleague may act as your HCPA as long as you feel the individual is capable of making important decisions regarding your medical care in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. Additionally, the law allows you to appoint co-agents (two people who will serve together as equals) or successive agents (a second person who will serve in case the first agent is unable to do so). However, confusion or conflict may result if you appoint more than one agent. 

In the event you no longer want your named HCPA to serve as your proxy, you have the freedom to change your mind and reverse your decision at any time. If you wish to assign a new HCPA, all that is needed is a new document designating the new HCPA.

When should you appoint your HCPA?

While a HCPA may not seem necessary if you are young and healthy, it is important to appoint someone in the event of an unforeseen accident. You have a right to decide what kind of medical treatment you do and do not want. If you have specific wishes about your health care, a HCPA will ensure that those wishes are honored even if you are physically or mentally unable to tell your doctors what you want.

Even if you do not have specific wishes about your health care, a HCPA will ensure that someone you trust will make your medical decisions if you cannot do so. If you do not have a HCPA and are physically or mentally unable to tell your doctors what you want, the following people, in order of priority, are legally authorized to make your health care decisions for you:

  • Your court-appointed guardian or conservator;
  • Your spouse or domestic partner;
  • Your adult child;
  • Your adult sibling;
  • A close friend; or
  • Your nearest living relative.

How do you appoint your HCPA?

If you’re are interested in appointing a healthcare power of attorney, make sure to guarantee its validity with the help of an attorney. Attempting to create your own HCPA without qualified legal representation can leave you in the in a much worse position. Plus, you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing you’ll have ongoing support during the process, and after. We are just one phone call away for all of our clients.

An attorney will listen to your goals and concerns and provide counsel based on your specific situation making sure to correctly document your intent. We will make sure your HCPA is explained, detailed, and done correctly to reflect your wishes.

If you’re ready to craft a health care power of attorney, the attorney at the Skillern Law Firm, PLLC can help. For more information, reach out to us today at (918) 805-2511 or contact@skillernlaw.com.

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