Do I need a medical power of attorney? A medical power of attorney is one of the five estate planning documents that everyone should have (the others being a will, power of attorney, living will and HIPAA authorization). Compared to a ‘regular’ power of attorney, a.k.a. durable power of attorney, which authorizes someone to make financial decisions for you, a medical power of attorney gives someone the legal authority to make medical decisions for you when/if you were to become so ill or terribly injured that you could not communicate with your doctor. Unfortunately you just never know when bad things like this might happen, and having a medical power of attorney in place helps make sure someone you really trust would be the one making important medical decisions for you.
If you already have a living will, that’s great, but you should still also have a medical power of attorney. A living will is much narrower, because it only concerns when you are suffering from a terminal or irreversible condition. A medical power of attorney is much broader. It covers healthcare decisions for you for when you become incapacitated which may or may not mean you are suffering from a terminal or irreversible condition.
For what it’s worth, the person who is designated as your agent in your medical power of attorney can make medical decisions for you only if your doctor certifies that you are incompetent to make such decisions for yourself. And if you were to become competent again later then your designated agent wouldn’t be able to continue making medical decisions for you. Likewise, you can choose to revoke your medical power of attorney by oral or written notification to either your designated agent or your doctor. On top of that, executing a new medical power of attorney would also revoke the prior one.
Until next time,