What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

Should you become incapacitated, having a power of attorney will equip your loved ones with the tools they need to act on your behalf. Without one in place, petitioning the court for guardianship over an incapacitated individual can be time consuming, costly and emotionally taxing on loved ones – not to mention possible court appointments that do not share family values and wishes.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, commonly referred to as Healthcare Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy, allows your chosen agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This document typically contains your preferences regarding what treatment options may or may not be offered (e.g. life-sustaining machinery use) as well as signatory permission from you and usually is made part of a living will document.

An experienced elder law attorney can draft a document authorizing your agent to perform various transactions on your behalf such as paying bills, purchasing or selling property and creating trusts for Medicaid planning purposes. While standard statutory power of attorneys that can be purchased at stationery stores or downloaded online generally only authorize your agent for routine transactions.

Your health care power of attorney allows you to appoint multiple individuals as decision makers for your health care. However, when doing so it is essential that each agent understands if they can make independent or joint decisions and that there be backup agents just in case one becomes incapable or unwilling to serve at some point.

A power of attorney for healthcare and financial matters are two separate documents that can be established simultaneously. You can appoint different people or the same one in each document as agents; having separate documents allows for greater privacy when assigning power under healthcare powers of attorney which extend beyond incompetency issues. Great care must be taken when selecting agents and creating documents accordingly.

Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker & Trust provides guidance on how to prepare both durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare power of attorney documents. Lawyers are available to help you create and prepare estate-planning documents such as living wills, advance health care directives and trusteeship declarations. Ely J. Rosenzveig & Associates offers experienced attorneys to assist individuals and families in crafting legal instruments tailored specifically to meet their unique needs. Schedule a consultation now by contacting either Pittsburgh (412) 344-1520) or Scranton (215) 629-3444, where our free initial consultations take place with credit cards accepted as payment. Furthermore, visit our blog for additional information regarding power of attorneys or any other topics in estate planning.

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