Healthcare Powers of Attorney & Durable Powers of Attorney
While a durable power of attorney appoints someone to make health care decisions for you it does not eliminate the need for a living will or other advance directive. If you do not have a power of attorney an advance directive will instruct your physician as to the degree of care your desire. If you do have a power of attorney an advance directive provides your attorney with guidance as to how to act. It is possible to combine a power of attorney, living will and other advance directives in one document to ensure that your wishes are clear and properly carried out.
Why Provide Advance Directives?
Advance directives allow you to accomplish at least two things regardless of the provide guidance on some, all or no treatment. First, they allow you to establish the degree of treatment you would like. Second, they remove the burden of making difficult health decisions from your family members while they are emotionally upset. Of course, providing explicit direction also helps avoid litigation.
What is the Health Care Power of Attorney?
A health care power of attorney is a written legal document that is effective upon disability which appoints one of more persons, known as attorney-in-fact, to make healthcare decisions during any period of incapacity. The health care power of attorney is only valid during your lifetime or until you revoke it. As long as you remain competent you can make any changes you like to your health care power of attorney. If you become incapacitated prior to creating a health care power of attorney a guardian may be court appointed to make decisions during the period of incapacity. An attorney-in-fact may act immediately upon incapacitation while a guardian will like not be appointed by the court for 8-10 weeks and cost thousands of dollars.