Health Care Power of Attorney
The health care power of attorney has been briefly discussed throughout this book. It is a document in which you designate someone to be your representative in the event you are unable to make or communicate decisions about all aspects of your health care. In the most basic form, a health care power of attorney merely says, "I want this person to make decisions about my health care if I am unable to do so."
Commonly, people choose to have a separate living will to give your agent some guidance, or incorporate living will provisions in the health care power of attorney. A health care power of attorney can be as broad as possible, or it can limit the type of decisions the person can make. If you do not have a living will, or do not make any type of statements in your health care power of attorney about your desires, it will be up to the person you designate to determine what you would want in a certain situation. It can be a great help to your agent if you also have a living will or living will provisions in the power of attorney to provide some guidance as to what you would like.
State laws allow you to designate someone to carry out your wishes or to make all health care decisions on your behalf. Having a health care power of attorney is as valuable as a living will. Of course, keep in mind that you should only use a health care power of attorney if there is someone whom you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf.