A Medical Power of Attorney grants to someone someone else, the power to act on your behalf when it comes to medical decisions. A Medical Power of Attorney covers medical care decisions only and often only for the period of time during which you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
A Medical Power of Attorney legally authorizes a specified person, the ‘Attorney-in-fact’, to make health care decisions and handle medical issues on behalf of the 'Principal', who is unable to do so themselves. It can allow this trusted person to continue acting on the principal's behalf even if they become incapacitated or unable to communicate their medical wishes.
If there is no power of attorney in place and an unfortunate set of circumstances leaves a person unable to consent to medical treatment or make important medical decisions for themselves, their family or friends may need to go to court to obtain the authority to handle that person's medical affairs and make these decisions on that person's behalf.
Another estate planning document called a 'Living Will' or 'health care declaration' is a critically important complement to every Medical Power of Attorney. In fact, some states allow a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will to come in the form of one document. Many states, however, require them to be executed separately.
A Living Will only gives specific directions with regard to what life-prolonging treatment you want to receive if you fall into a persistent vegetative state and death is imminent as determined by your physicians. Do you want to be kept alive as long as possible or be allowed to pass away naturally? A Medical Power of Attorney, on the other hand, applies in every other situation. What’s more, if you don't have a Living Will in place, your Attorney-in-fact, will be able to make decisions for you regarding life-prolonging treatment as well as.
You can use this medical power of attorney form to authorize someone to manage any type of decision-making regarding medical treatments or health care on your behalf, including:
People who may find this legal document useful:
Your Medical Power of Attorney should include the following components:
Once your medical power attorney has been completed and filed, make sure that all of the necessary parties have copies. This includes, primarily, your doctor, agents, and any family members who you think should know about your wishes.
Who should I choose as my Attorney-in-fact?
The person you nominate to be your Attorney-in-fact should be someone you trust and who knows your wishes, values, and beliefs. You should be confident that this person will be capable of making health care decisions on your behalf according to your instructions and always in your best interests.
Can I choose more than one Attorney-in-fact?
Yes. In fact, it is good idea to nominate one or more alternate Attorneys-in-fact in case your primary Attorney-in-fact is incapable or unavailable to perform his or her duties under your Medical Power of Attorney.
To what extent is an Attorney-in-fact liable for a decision they make under the authority of a Medical POA?
Your attorney-in-fact, acting in good faith, is not legally liable for any health care decisions made on your behalf under a Medical Power of Attorney.
A Medical Power of Attorney can be revoked by the Principal at any time while he or she still has the legal capacity to act. If, however, the Principle become incapacitated before revoking the Medical Power of Attorney, someone with his or her best interests in mind (such as a family member, close friend, or business associate) will need to petition the local probate court to become the Principal's appointed 'conservator' and to revoke any pre-existing Medical Power of Attorney.
If you do not have a Medical Power of Attorney in place and you become physically or mentally unable to consent to or refuse medical treatment on your own, the following individuals, in order of priority, may be legally authorized (as your health care surrogate) to make medical decisions on your behalf:
If none of the above individuals are available and willing to serve as your health care surrogate, your attending physician can choose any other person or entity including a public agency, public guardian, public official, corporation, or any other other person or entity permitted by law.
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