When it comes to preparing for the future, your ongoing healthcare is a big part of that plan. That’s why it’s important to understand medical power of attorney – what it is, why you may need it and what it means to your future medical needs. These five questions will give you a basic understanding of this important part of your retirement and estate planning.
What is medical power of attorney?
Medical power of an attorney is a legal, binding document that designates a trusted relative, friend or other person to make decisions regarding your healthcare and medical needs, in the event that you are unable to make them yourself.
When will medical power of attorney be effective?
Once you have signed and executed a medical power of attorney, it is effective. That said, your designee will only make decisions on your behalf when and if you are unable to do so. This could be due to a physical or mental impairment.
What makes me “incompetent?”
Since medical power of attorney only comes into effect when you are unable to make your own decisions, there must be a legal way to determine your incompetence. Because of this, your designee can only make decisions on your behalf if your physician certifies that you are unable to do so for yourself. This certification will then be filed in your medical record.
What decisions can the agent (designee) make on my behalf?
An official medical power of attorney enables the designee to make decisions regarding your healthcare. There is a broad variety of treatments and care that the designee can determine. That said, an agent is never allowed to make decisions for you regarding commitment to a mental institution, convulsive treatment, psychosurgery, abortion or neglect of comfort care.
Can it be revoked?
Absolutely. Your medical power of attorney can be revoked anytime in writing. If you give medical power of attorney to your spouse and then divorce, the medical power of attorney is automatically revoked.
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