Like with your house or any other property you own, you may appoint a health care power of attorney (HCPOA) who will make critical decisions regarding your health. When correctly established, you will be named as the ‘principal’ and you may choose your ‘agent’. When it comes to health, they are potentially the most important decisions that we have to make and so appointing a HCPOA that we trust can be pivotal for when we are no longer able to make such decisions. If you happen to be in a poor state of health, your trusted ‘agent’ will be able to make decisions on your behalf judging by discussions you may have had previously.
Determination of Powers – What power does the agent hold if you’re unable to make an important decision and to what extent do you have a say over these powers? Nowadays, you will always have a say over your health and health care as long as you are of a sound state of mind. When you appoint a HCPOA, this doesn’t change and you can grant the powers with which they will be given in any given circumstance.
Furthermore, you can provide as much detail as you want, cancel your HCPOA if you’re of a sound state of mind, and even appoint a backup agent just in case the primary agent cannot or will not make a decision. Generally, the following decisions will be in the hands of your health care POA agent:
• When life-sustaining treatment should end
• What treatments should be declined due to personal or religious reasons
• Life-sustaining treatments and any decisions that comes along with the process
• What to do after you pass away
• Whether your tissue and organs are donated for therapeutic purposes or your body will be given to medical research
Many of these topics are quite broad, therefore, we advise to provide as much detail as possible. Your agent should be aware of exactly what you want in each circumstance. In addition to being able to cancel or assign a backup, you can also set a time limit on the HCPOA. You may choose to appoint an agent for life. However, some choose to appoint an agent until a certain age so it all depends on your beliefs and what your main aim of the agent will be.
A health care POA is essentially the same as any other power of attorney but addresses your health and medical care, not your financial or business decisions. You control the time you remain in this ‘agreement’ as well as assigning a backup and cancelling at any point in time.