Preparing for Your Future? Consider a Health Care or Medical Power of Attorney
If you have already reached the prime of your life, it is a wise move to create a power of attorney that designates a trusted person who will make choices regarding your health care and finances on your behalf when you are no longer mentally capable of doing so. That person, which is also called the attorney-in-fact or agent, can be a relative or a friend and doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer. You can grant a medical, health care, or both types of powers of attorney to secure your future as well as your health and assets.
Medical powers of attorney particularly involve medical care decisions that agents make for their principals. You still need one even if you already have drafted a living will. Medical powers of attorney and living wills are two different legal documents. The former merely authorizes a person to make important medical care decisions such as those regarding use of life support when the principal is mentally incapable of doing this for himself or herself. On the other hand, a living will indicates what a person wants to happen regarding his or her medical care when time comes life support is necessary.
Medical powers of attorney are not only beneficial for elderly people who are suffering from serious diseases. Younger people who have had an accident or are suffering from a health problem that renders them unconscious can also use these powers of attorney. In any case, you can choose a person who you trust the most to decide on your behalf according to the available information at that time.
That person who you assign as your agent must perform whatever you require even if it runs contrary to his or her own wishes for you. If you want something to happen in a specific situation in the future, your agent must follow your orders even if it is against their will to keep you alive despite your health condition.
Choosing an agent who will make medical care decisions for you is not enough. You also need to discuss with your agent your wishes in specific instances such as the kind of medications you want and don’t want to take when you are unconscious. In doing so, you can rest assured that everything goes smoothly as you planned when you are mentally incapacitated.
Another power that you can grant to a trusted person concerns your health care. Health care powers of attorney refer to legal documents that designate someone to make financial decisions for your estate should you become disabled, in which case you cannot make decisions on your own.
Once you become mentally disabled, your agent gains responsibility of handling all your finances. An agent or attorney-in-fact who handles your health care differs from a successor in a living trust. The agent is allowed to manage your finances while you are still alive, while a successor gains control of your assets only after your death.
Illnesses can happen to anyone at anytime, so it is important to have a medical or a health care power of attorney while it is still early rather than to let your family members become confused about making decisions regarding your medical and health care.
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