Health Care Powers of Attorney

power of attorney health careprotect yourself from Health Care problems with a power of attorney for health care

You can’t make health care decisions when you are ill. That is to say you also can’t make end of life decisions. Therefore, you need a power of attorney for health care. Even if you have no other estate planning documents. To sum up, this is an essential document.

effectiveness of power of attorney for Health Care

The common law (judge made law) limited powers of attorney. That is to say they were only effective while a person is competent. As a result, they were of very little use in estate planning. However, under statute powers of attorney are durable. To clarify, now they are effective despite disability.

date of effectiveness

Client’s choose the date of effectiveness. However, powers of attorney for health care are effective immediately if desired. On the other hand, if the client wants them to be effective at actual illness they are called springing powers of attorney. However, I don’t recommend springing powers of attorney. In short, obtaining proof of illness causes delays in implementation. In addition, third parties fear inadequate documentation. Therefore, if you are deeply concerned about vesting your agent with these powers you should find an agent you trust more.

actions authorized

Certainly health care powers of attorney should be broad. For example, they should authorize the agent to act in all health care matters. That is to say it is impossible to predict the circumstances under which the power of attorney may be required.Therefore, I always recommend broad powers of attorney for health care.

On the other hand an agent cannot make end of life decisions under a power of attorney. An additional document called an Advanced Care Directive (also known as a “living will”) is necessary.  This document permits your agent to terminate life support, or to require life support, in the event of terminable illness or irreversible coma.

Please see the following for additional information: American Bar Association Living Wills and Health Care Proxies

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