Things to Consider When Choosing Medical Powers of Attorney for Senior Individuals

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A medical power of attorney enables someone to make medical choices on your behalf if you become disabled or otherwise unable to do so.

A power of attorney is a legal instrument that designates someone as your agent and empowers that individual to act on your behalf. Different kinds of powers of attorney are designed to handle certain situations.

What Is Medical Power of Attorney?

There are several types of power of attorney: General, springing, durable, and medical. Medical POA is also known as a healthcare power of attorney.

So, what is healthcare power of attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney (HCPA), or medical power of attorney, often known as a medical POA, is a legal document that gives a person the right to make medical decisions. This legal document enables you to choose an agent to make tough medical choices on your behalf. Your agent can only make these choices if a physician finds that you cannot make them for yourself. In summary, medical power of attorney enables you to guarantee that someone you trust can speak for you if you become medically incapable. 

A medical power of attorney is different from a financial power of attorney, which authorizes another person to make financial choices on your behalf, or general power of attorney, which authorizes another individual to act on any issue permitted by your state.

Unlike a general power of attorney, which is not durable, medical power of attorney is always durable. A nondurable power of attorney lapses and then goes invalid if you become incapacitated. As a consequence, medical power of attorney is built to last. They don’t kick in until you’ve been incapacitated for a while.

Why Do You Need a Medical Power of Attorney?

There are many reasons why it is prudent to establish a medical POA in advance. However, the following are the primary factors you may want to consider.

Peace of Mind

Suppose you become incapacitated or wounded and unable to manage your problem on your own. In that case, your loved ones can be forced to intervene and make choices on your behalf. Without a medical POA, this usually needs a court action, which can be time-consuming and expensive. By designating a trustworthy someone to serve as your healthcare agent before you need one, you can provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Major Medical Needs

If you are scheduled for surgery, you may want to appoint a healthcare agent to make medical choices on your behalf since you cannot agree while sedated. You can withdraw power of attorney after your recovery if you want.

Concerns On Degenerative Diseases

Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, ALS, and Huntington’s disease are all diseases that impair your ability to comprehend or agree to medical treatment. Following diagnosis, you may want to establish a medical power of attorney while still feeling well and capable enough of communicating your healthcare preferences.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Medical POA

Consider Options

There is no reason why the primary of a power of attorney must be connected. However, in certain instances, a non-relative can be the preferable candidate. For example, an older adult’s family resides in another state or their children struggle to behave honestly while managing their parent’s business.

Another possibility is that the kid of an old parent will not realize that the paper is still the parent’s decision and legal document. If a kid seems to be too engaged, a POA can be declared void for undue influence. This may result in court expenses, attorney’s fees, and unnecessary legal fights.

You may want to appoint clergy, a family friend, or another community member as an agent. Additionally, you can retain the services of a professional to manage power of attorney. Banks and trust firms, as well as accountants and attorneys, can satisfy this purpose.

Keep in mind that experts will almost certainly charge fees, which may rapidly add up. If you decide to employ a professional, do an in-depth interview with them to ensure they understand your parent’s desires. Additionally, you may want to select a professional depending on the purpose of the POA, such as selecting an accountant to manage financial matters.

Understand the Needs 

Discuss with your parents the kind of POA they need and the functions they require it to do. You should understand the present level of responsibility and effort required, and if that level is likely to change in the future. Making monthly payments, for example, takes less time than deciding on nursing homes or medical care for a parent with dementia. 

Ensure that the paperwork incorporates your parent’s desires. Suppose a POA is unclear about what should and should not occur. In that case, it allows the representative to make whatever choice they believe is best. That is why it is critical to consult with an attorney to ensure that the POA is tailored to the client’s actual requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Understand Financial Implications

A power of attorney is not personally responsible for the obligations or bills of the principal. However, this does not negate the financial costs associated with being a POA. You must keep your money separate from the principal’s and always make choices in the principal’s best interest. Also, you can expose yourself to legal action if you make bad choices or cannot justify your actions. Therefore, violations of any POA provisions can potentially expose you to legal or financial consequences.

To prevent this, ensure that you understand the terms of your agreement to act as a power of attorney. You may even want to consider having your lawyer review the agreement to ensure that all terms are clear. But be sure to consider a few things like experience, fees, etc. before hiring a lawyer.

Additionally, it is critical to maintain accurate records and demonstrate how your choices adhere to your parent’s desires, which can assist in shielding you from legal battles.

Conclusion

None of us are capable of forecasting the future. A medical power of attorney enables you to ensure that you and your family members are prepared for any medical emergency that can occur. As long as you are judged mentally stable, you have the ability to withdraw or cancel your medical POA at any moment.

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