Is Your Healthcare Power of Attorney up to date?

News today bombards us with pandemic and hysteria about the latest coronavirus. So many thousands infected today. So many hundred died. I’d quote numbers, but by the time you read this they’ll be outdated.

The veracity of the pandemic aside, there is a simple lesson, among many, we can learn from this scare. Consider: If you were in the hospital unable to care for yourself, who do you want making decisions for you?

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that empowers another person to make decisions on your behalf. That power could be temporary or indefinite. It can be only while you are competent, only if you are not competent, or both. The power can be limited to one action, for all actions, or anywhere in between.

This is a powerful document that gives another the ability to conduct your business. It’s not something to be entered into lightly. There is, however, a place for these documents in everyone’s contingency plans, and I include such in all of the estate plans I help clients establish.

The Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is a specific power of attorney that governs only health care decisions. It allows your agent access to protected information about you and to make decisions about your care. It can also be used to limit what decisions they can make and to guide them.

Without one of these documents the law makes assumptions about who can make decisions for you and what decisions they can make. Your spouse gets first priority, but what if you never got an official marriage license? Adult children get second priority, but what if there is a disagreement among them? Parents come next, but do you want to burden your parents with life and death decisions over their child without first talking with them?

Planning Ahead

Today’s environment reminds us that there is no time like the present for planning. When we don’t even know if we can go to work the next day, it is nice to have something settled. If this situation has caused you to think about your health care decisions and / or your estate plan, I’ll be happy to help you put together some documents. From a full on estate plan to an emergency contingency plan to carry you the next year, I’m still available via phone and email, and maybe even face-to-face. Chairman McMaster allowing of course. . .