A Healthcare Power of Attorney (also known as an Advanced Medical Directive or a Living Will) allows your trusted friend or family member to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes to doctors.
The Health Care Power of Attorney section names an agent to authorize treatment, receive health care information and received medical information. This is a very extensive section covering aging in place, in-home treatment, authorizing all types of medical treatment and expenses, executing documents such as DNRs. Many of our clients will tell us they have a DNR. However, it is not possible to have a DNR at every place it might be needed which is why it is necessary to authorize your agent to sign one on your behalf. In addition, the document has a living will where you state what your wishes are regarding life support. Finally, the document has a full and complete HIPPA waiver.
Other necessary parts of the document are organ donation preferences. We will it is important to put it in the document. If your preference is no then put it in the document so your family is not bothered. In addition, we put your funeral and burial wishes in the document.
We encourage our clients to make as many decision as they are comfortable with. For example, Jane is sure she does not want to be put on life support if she is brain dead so we put that in the document. Also, if Jane wants to be buried we put that in the document as well. Without one, you must have a guardian or ‘conservator’ of your person appointed by the court before decisions can be made on your behalf.
This is a critic document. When your spouse is dying the hospital will want this document to authorize you to make important decisions when it comes to life support wishes.
Health Care Power of Attorney for Students
As a parent do you realize that once your child is an 18-year-old, you no longer have any right to make health care decision for him/her. You no longer have the right to receive his/her health care information. What if your child is hospitalized? You could be left standing outside not knowing what is going on if your child is not capable of talking. This applies to your college-age child. You son/daughter can go away to school get injured and you have no right to know or make decisions for him or her.
Health Care Power of Attorney for People with Mental Illness
There is also a special Health Care Power of Attorney for people suffering from mental illness. It allows the agent to put him/her in the hospital against his/her will. The hospitalization lasts for 10 days. It allows the mental health crisis to pass. This document is so important. Regular Health Care Power of Attorney specifically forbids the agent from committing someone. Under the regular law, you can ask for a 72-hour hold if the person is going to harm himself or others. However, sometimes that is not enough time for the medication to help someone. The 72-hour hold is also subject to the Magistrates agreement. If the Magistrate does not believe the person is a danger to himself/herself or others he can let him out. In general, the system is very frustrating to loved ones of people who suffer from mental illness. The best solution is to have the person sign the special Health Care Power of Attorney.
A Health Care Power of Attorney not only saves precious decision-making time, but it also ensures that the individual you trust the most has the power to make these most important decisions for you if you are unable to make the decisions on your own. If you do not have a Health Care Power of Attorney then your loved one is forced to get a guardianship in order to make health care decisions, authorize treatment and execute health care related documents. In order to get a guardianship, a court proceeding is brought. Once the guardianship is granted by the judge the guardian has to file reports on you with the state until after your death. This process is expensive and time-consuming.