When should I use a healthcare power of attorney?

You should consider using a healthcare power of attorney when you create your advance healthcare directive. Your state may allow you to do so as part of the advance directive or may require you to create this as a separate document. Take these steps when age, illness, or other concerns present themselves, or when you want to have peace of mind about your care in the future. While age-related issues or even those caused by illness can be predictable, accidents and injuries are not. If you are concerned about your wishes being followed, then this is a good step to take.

A healthcare power of attorney can further ensure your wishes are followed by appointing someone to be proactive in enforcing your advance directive and making decisions for you when an unexpected medical situation occurs. This person can also visit you in the hospital or facility and access your records to work on your behalf. It is important to name someone you trust to this role in order to ensure that your wishes are followed; both your written wishes and your stated preferences can be supported by your healthcare agent.

If you do not specify a healthcare agent with a healthcare power of attorney, the court may be forced to step in and appoint a conservator. Although courts often try to appoint close family members to this role, there is a chance that this person will be a stranger who has no idea of your wishes, beyond any advance directive, and no way of knowing what you would truly want in any given situation.

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