An injury or illness can result in mental incapacitation. A medical power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.
A medical power of attorney can be an important part of an estate plan. University of Michigan Health answers some important questions you may have about it.
What do you call the person who has authority under a power of attorney?
There are many different names for this person, but if you make a medical power of attorney in Virginia, the accepted term is “health care agent.”
How do you choose a health care agent?
The person you choose as your agent should be mature, responsible and trustworthy. Many people choose spouses or close family members, such as siblings or adult children, but you can also choose a close friend as your agent if you wish.
When should you create a medical power of attorney?
Because you never know when you could experience an injury or illness that affects your mental capacity, it is a good idea to create a medical power of attorney early in life. If you do not already have a medical power of attorney and you receive a diagnosis of a condition that causes incapacity, such as Alzheimer’s disease, you should create the power of attorney as soon as possible before your condition starts affecting your judgment.
What should you do with your power of attorney once you have created it?
You should make copies of your power of attorney and give them to your doctor and your health care agent, as well as other close family members for their reference. You should store the original in a place that is safe but easily accessible.
You can have a medical power of attorney if you also have a living will. The living will takes precedence because it expresses your own wishes.