Estate Planning – Healthcare Power of Attorney
What is a health care power of attorney?
A health care power of attorney is a document that legally grants your attorney in fact the ability to make medical decisions in the event an accident occurs, leave of absence, untimely injury or illness, or you are mentally incompetent. This does not include financial decisions.
Do I need a health care power of attorney?
Yes. A health care power of attorney is effective the event something unfortunate happens and you are NOT ABLE to make decisions regarding your health or medical state. Your attorney in fact will ensure that in the event you are mentally incapacitated, decisions are made reflecting your wants and desires.
What happens if I do not have a health care power of attorney?
Do you remember the Terri Schiavo case? If you do not have a durable power of attorney and you become mentally incapacitated, the Court will begin a process to establish a guardian for you. Establishing guardianship in a short amount of time can be extremely expensive. The guardian will then act as your representative and conduct business and financial affairs that you are not able to complete yourself. This process is stressful and can incur large and untimely costs.
What is the difference between a power of attorney, a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney?
A power of attorney gives an attorney in fact the ability to handle your financial affairs. A durable power of attorney means that in the event you are mentally incapacitated, the attorney in fact will still be able to handle your financial affairs. Otherwise, a power of attorney only gives the attorney in fact the legal right to handle financial affairs under your consent and becomes invalidated if you were to become mentally incapacitated. A health care power of attorney gives an attorney in fact the ability to make medical decisions for you in the unfortunate event you become mentally or physically incapacitated, but does not include rights to handle your financial affairs.