Healthcare power of attorney form

What Is a Medical Power of Attorney?

Unfortunately, injury, illness, or advancing age may rob you of the ability to make healthcare decisions. Should the worst occur, you can avoid any confusion or chaos in your medical treatment by executing a medical power of attorney

Understanding Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney lets a person plan for their future medical care. When you set up a medical power of attorney (also called a healthcare power of attorney), you sign a document that authorizes another person to make decisions regarding your healthcare if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make healthcare decisions yourself. These decisions include choosing between treatment alternatives or healthcare providers, authorizing medication or surgical procedures, or deciding to cease life-sustaining treatment and enter end-of-life care. In most cases, people will set up durable medical powers of attorney, which means the healthcare proxy’s authority continues even if the principal becomes incapacitated. 

People who set up a medical power of attorney will frequently combine it with a living will, a document that allows a person to outline their preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care to guide the healthcare proxy’s decision-making. 

Why Create a Medical Power of Attorney?

Creating a medical power of attorney can offer several benefits, such as:

  • Avoiding the need for legal proceedings or litigation to give a trusted family member or friend the authority to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated
  • Authorizing someone to act on your behalf during an intensive medical procedure requiring general anesthesia in case an emergency arises and doctors need consent for treatment
  • Providing your family members with guidance on who you want to make medical decisions for you and what kind of treatment or end-of-life care you want
  • Protecting your interests if you’ve received a diagnosis of a degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s disease or ALS that will eventually render you incapable of making medical decisions

The Process of Setting Up a Medical Power of Attorney

When setting up a medical power of attorney, you first must identify who you want to serve as your healthcare proxy. Ideal candidates for a healthcare proxy include close family members or friends who understand your preferences for medical treatment and other related topics, such as your religious/moral beliefs. You should talk to anyone you nominate as your healthcare proxy to ensure their willingness to serve. You may also consider nominating alternative proxies if your primary proxy cannot or will not serve.

Next, you must decide the scope of your healthcare proxy’s authority, including the circumstances that will trigger the proxy’s authority and what decisions the proxy can make on your behalf. You will need to draft a medical power of attorney document. Although you can find template forms online, you should consult a lawyer about special provisions you want to include in your power of attorney form. 

Once you’ve drafted the medical power of attorney form, you must sign the form in the presence of two competent adult witnesses who must also sign the form. You can also have the signatures notarized to ensure a court will enforce the form. Keep the original signed form in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe at home, a bank safety deposit box, or your lawyer’s office. You should also give a copy of the signed form to your healthcare proxy, who can show it to medical providers as proof of their authority. 

Updating or Revoking a Medical Power of Attorney

You can amend or revoke your medical power of attorney at any time, as long as you have the mental/legal capacity to do so, by drafting and signing/notarizing a written document. You should also inform your original healthcare proxy that you’ve amended or revoked your medical POA and advise your primary physician or other healthcare providers who have your original POA on file.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today to Learn More About Powers of Attorney

A medical power of attorney can give you and your loved ones peace of mind because you have a plan for your medical care as you age or suffer a debilitating injury or illness. Contact Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP today for an initial consultation to learn more about medical powers of attorney and discuss whether you should have a power of attorney as part of your estate plan.