Understanding Healthcare Power of Attorney
Updated: May 2
A healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPA) is a legal document that allows an individual to designate another person to make decisions about their medical care in the event they
become unable to make decisions for themselves. This person may be called a healthcare agent or an attorney-in-fact for healthcare, but their responsibilities are essentially the same. The purpose of a healthcare power of attorney is to ensure that an individual's medical wishes are carried out even if they are unable to communicate those wishes themselves. This legal document is an essential part of any comprehensive estate plan and is particularly important for individuals with chronic medical conditions or who are approaching the end of life.
Importance of Choosing the Right Healthcare Agent
Choosing a healthcare agent is a critical decision when creating a healthcare power of attorney. The healthcare agent should be someone who knows the individual well, is calm in a crisis, and understands how the individual would make decisions if they were able to do so. Advocating for the individual’s medical wishes also means understanding their cultural beliefs, and values that may affect how they wish to receive care. Typically, a family member or close friend is chosen as the healthcare agent. It is important to note that a healthcare power of attorney is different from a general power of attorney.
Limitation of Power of Attorney
While a healthcare power of attorney is an essential document, it does have limitations and considerations. For example, a healthcare power of attorney does not authorize an individual to make decisions related to hospitalization for a mental illness, electroconvulsive therapy, or abortion. Additionally, a healthcare power of attorney is only valid if the individual is of sound mind when signing the document. It is important for individuals over the age of eighteen (18) to have a healthcare power of attorney completed to ensure that their medical wishes are carried out in the event they are unable to make decisions for themselves. By drafting an HCP with an attorney, individuals can select someone whom they trust to make medical decisions on their behalf.
To ensure that your wishes are recognized, it’s important that you work with a competent lawyer to draw up your healthcare power of attorney. Contact The Sherer Law Firm in Tampa, Florida, to set up a consultation.