It is important to weigh the pros and cons of a healthcare power of attorney before making any decisions. Among the things to think about and discuss with an estate lawyer are:
- Which types of medical care you do or do not want
- Who you want to make important medical decisions on your behalf
What Is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
First things first: just what is a healthcare power of attorney? This is a legal document that designates medical power of attorney (POA) to someone you trust in the event that you are unable to express your own wishes regarding:
- Which type of medical treatment you receive
- When to resuscitate you and when to take you off life support
- What to do with your body after death
You could grant power of attorney to a family member, a medical professional, or someone else. Whoever you designate will have full legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. They would ensure you are treated in accordance with your desires.
The Pros of a Healthcare Power of Attorney
With a healthcare power of attorney, you would not have to worry about whether or not you will get the type of care you want if and when you are unable to speak for yourself. This makes it an especially attractive option for those who:
- Have a terminal illness
- Suffer from a mental condition that makes or will make decision-making difficult
- Are older
- Have dependents or other relatives who you do not want to have to make such decisions
Anyone can make a healthcare power of attorney at any time if they feel it would be useful and grant them peace of mind. A healthcare power of attorney can be beneficial for your family also.
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The Cons of a Healthcare Power of Attorney
Planning for the future always comes with the risk that unforeseen events render your plans moot. For instance, after you finalize your healthcare power of attorney, you could:
- Develop a new health condition that changes which types of treatment you want or need to receive
- Have a falling out with the person to whom you designated power of attorney or otherwise decide that you no longer want them to have that power
Another drawback is the emotional toll that making a healthcare power of attorney may take on you. Creating a healthcare power of attorney is a stark reminder of your mortality and drives home the fact that you will not always be as healthy or as mentally aware as you are today. Some people may understandably have a hard time grappling with these realities.
Most of the cons of a healthcare power of attorney can be remedied with careful planning and foresight. An estate attorney can make alterations when and if you need them and offer compassionate advice if you are struggling with the implications of making a healthcare power of attorney.
How to Make a Healthcare Power of Attorney
Before you codify your wishes, it is a good idea to discuss them with an estate attorney. A lawyer can:
- Make sure your wishes do not conflict with state law
- Talk through the implications of each provision
- Answer any remaining questions you have about healthcare power of attorneys
- Personalize your healthcare power of attorney beyond the options offered by generic online forms
Your lawyer would also be there to make modifications to your healthcare power of attorney if you change your mind about any of its provisions. Be sure to act promptly if you need such a change: if something happens to you before you alter the healthcare power of attorney, the old document remains legally binding, and you would not get the care you want.
Learn More About Healthcare Powers of Attorney Today
Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC offers free consultations to anyone who wants to know more about healthcare of attorneys and other related services. We can go over the pros and cons of a healthcare power of attorney with the goal of giving you all the information you need to make the right decision for you.