Allison Harrison
April 3, 2024

Do I Need a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney (HPOA) is a special document that lets someone else make health decisions for you if you can’t do it yourself. 

Why is it as Crucial as Having a Will?

A will is like leaving a note that says who gets your stuff when you’re not around anymore. But what if you’re still here but can’t speak up about what you want? That’s where the HPOA steps in. While a will talks about your things, an HPOA is all about you and what you’d want for your health.

When and How is it Used?

Let’s say someone is in an accident and is in the hospital. They can’t talk because they’re asleep from the medicine or are too hurt. Doctors might need to know what to do next. If that person has an HPOA, the person they’ve chosen (called their “agent”) can tell the doctors what they think the injured person would want. It’s like having a backup voice.

How is One Created?

A HPOA is a very important document with legal implications. As such, there are special rules:

Decision: First, the person decides who they trust most to make health decisions for them. It could be a parent, sibling, friend, or anyone they feel will do what’s best for them.

Paperwork: They then fill out an official form that says, “Hey, this is the person I trust to make health choices for me if I can’t.”

Witnesses or Notary: After that, usually a couple of adults (called witnesses) watch the person sign it, then they sign it too, to prove it’s all legit. A “notary public” who stamps it to make it super official can also witness the document.

Safekeeping: Once you sign and stamp the document, make sure to keep it safe. It’s a good idea to let doctors and close family members know about it, so they’re prepared if anything happens.

Problems with Incorrect Healthcare Power of Attorneys:

Wrong Choices: If someone doesn’t think carefully about who they pick as their agent, that person might make decisions they wouldn’t like. Imagine someone in the game choosing all the paths you wouldn’t!

Not Knowing: Doctors or family members who don’t know about the HPOA might make decisions without consulting the chosen agent. It’s like playing a team game but not telling your team the plan.

Not Updated: Let’s say someone made an HPOA when they were 20 years old, and now they’re 40. The person they picked back then might not be around or the best choice, or even alive anymore. If they don’t update the HPOA, there might be confusion.

Misunderstandings: If the HPOA isn’t clear or is missing some details, doctors might get confused about what to do. It’s like having blurry instructions for a complicated game level.

Legal Issues: Sometimes, there might be disagreements if there are mistakes in the HPOA or if multiple people think they know what’s best. It can get messy, with people arguing about the right path forward.

Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored: The Final Word on Healthcare Power of Attorney

Having a healthcare power of attorney is a big deal. It ensures your voice is still heard, even if you can’t speak. Just like in a will where you’d want to ensure your stuff goes to the right people, with an HPOA, you’re making sure the right person is looking out for you when it matters most. It’s all about planning ahead and making sure you’re taken care of, even in unexpected situations. So, in the game of life, it’s always best to be prepared with the right strategies and tools!