What if you haven’t named a Health Care Agent? Your immediate family (spouse, parents, children) may not be able to make critical medical decisions on your behalf when you can’t speak for yourself. Family dynamics might play a role in who you want (or don’t want) to speak for you. Some family members are estranged and because you don’t have a Health Care Power of Attorney, the wrong person is legally your next of kin that makes decisions.
HCPOAs allow you designate someone to act on your behalf exclusively regarding your health care. Health Care Agents speak for you when you cannot effectively communicate with your doctor. When you are present and understand what is going on, you call the shots. The doctor determines if you can effectively communicate by your ability to tell them what you want and your ability to know what is going on.
You should appoint someone you trust to make sound Health Care decisions. The Health Care Agent should make decisions based on what you would do if you were making the decision; not what they want to do. If your appointed agent doesn’t know what you would do in a situation, they are supposed to make a decision that is in your best interest. This is why it is important to have those difficult but necessary hard conversations!
The HCPOAs that we draft give very broad authority. Limiting the authority of your Health Care Agent is normally a mistake unless there is a serious religious or philosophical reason for doing so. Also, having an attorney draft your HCPOA allows you to give specific instructions that may be important to you based on your views or religion. For example, instructions to refuse blood transfusions or to not have an autopsy unless legally required.
If you wait until you need a HCPOA, it may be too late. You may not be able to legally sign it. Schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to get your HCPOA and all of your documents taken care of!