A Power of Attorney (POA) for personal care is a legal document that gives someone you trust the right to make medical decisions on your behalf, if and when you are no longer mentally or physically capable of making decisions on your own.
It’s one of the three most important documents everyone should have (the other two being a will and a POA for property). Here’s why.
1) A trustee will have access to your medical records and can opt for any medical treatment. Handpick the person you most trust to be that decision maker. It could be your spouse, your mother, your father, your child (over the age of 16), or your best friend.
2) Your values or culture influence your choices. Having an appointed individual means someone understands your beliefs and personal choices and knows what life-saving procedures you would like doctors to take. A well-drafted POA outlines your choices, eliminating the need for family members to argue or disagree.
3) You care about your family. Without a POA, your loved ones may incur legal expenses simply to determine who would be recognized as your legal guardian.
4) You need someone to act and speak for you. Someone needs to give consent on your behalf beyond immediate medical treatment. Retrofitting your home to accommodate your medical needs, hiring a long-term care medical practitioner or moving into a care facility all require a substitute decision maker to give consent.
5) Because when you need one, it’s too late to write one. You must be legally mentally capable at the time you sign a POA. Which means, it’s important to think of the future now, when you are healthy and able, because you may not be legally capable of drafting, and consenting to, a POA at the time that you actually need one.
Next month, we’ll take a look at the top reasons to write a POA for Property.
* This article does not replace legal advice and is meant to be for information purposes only. Please consult us or any other legally trained professional when navigating the complexities around writing a POA.