Reasons to use a medical power of attorney
When you’re doing your estate planning, remember that it needs to focus on more than just distributing assets to your heirs. This can be a good place to start, as you inventory those assets and write a will. But your plan needs to consider your health and medical needs, as well.
One way to do this is by using a medical power of attorney. This document allows you to officially name an agent who can make your medical decisions. If something happens so that you’re incapacitated, your agent can take over to help you get the care that you need.
Is this the same as a living will?
A living will can also be used to make medical decisions. For instance, maybe you do not want to be kept on life-support under any circumstances. You can include a provision in your living will making this intention clear. When doctors discuss your medical needs with your family, they’ll refer to this document and administer treatment accordingly.
But in some ways, a power of attorney could be more useful. It is more flexible because your agent can talk with the medical team and make the best decision at that moment. It’s hard to predict everything when writing a living will, but you don’t have to make these predictions if you use a power of attorney.
No matter what you decide to do, just be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take to set the paperwork up. It’s important to make these medical decisions in advance and get everything in place so that it’s ready if you need it.