A medical power of attorney or health care proxy is an essential tool if someone becomes ill or incapacitated and can no longer make medical decisions for themself.
Health Care Proxy
A “health care proxy,” sometimes called a “health care surrogate” or “durable medical power of attorney,” is a durable power of attorney specifically designed to cover medical treatment. You appoint a person and grant to him or her the authority to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to express your preferences about medical treatment. Most commonly, this situation occurs either because you are unconscious or because your mental state is such that you do not have the legal capacity to make your own decisions.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical POA is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a signed, witnessed legal document where someone designates an agent to make health care decisions if they are temporarily or permanently unable to make such medical decisions. A durable power of attorney for health care lasts indefinitely and the person granting the POA authority typically retains the power to revoke it.
Many people prefer to keep their legal documents private. With end-of-life issues, however, communicating your wishes is essential. An advanced health care directive is the first step in this process. But you also need to discuss your preferences with others. Take the time to discuss these issues with the person you appoint as your health care proxy. Talk to your physician. Make sure your family knows how you feel about end-of-life issues. The more these individuals know, the easier it will be for them to fulfill your wishes. While the conversations are no doubt difficult, they will relieve those you appoint of tremendous emotional burdens by your having personally explained your desires.
Content provided by The American Bar Association