How to use a power of attorney for long-term healthcare

On Behalf of | May 26, 2024 | Estate Planning |

A medical power of attorney is a representative, such as a spouse or family member, that can act on your behalf if you can no longer make decisions on your own because of a mental or physical disability. 

Once you have picked the right power of attorney to help manage your long-term health — with the help from our previous blog post that discusses what to look for in a medical agent  — you can begin discussing how your medical agent is expected to act. You need to talk to your medical agent to help ensure they keep your best interests in mind. Here is what you should talk about:

Instructing your long-term healthcare and end-of-life care decisions

You can allow your medical agent to perform their duties according to narrow or broad parameters to help ensure your medical health is taken care of. Your agent can have access to your medical records, sign medical paperwork, agree to treatments and decide your end-of-life decisions for you. However, there may be certain matters to address about your long-term healthcare and end-of-life with your power of attorney before giving them their powers.

Some of these decisions may include:

  • How long you are expected to stay on life-support
  • What healthcare facilities you may be admitted to
  • Whether you have “do not resuscitate” (DNR) preferences
  • What treatments, surgeries or medications you want (or do not want)
  • What doctors will perform these treatments
  • Whether you will accept organ or tissue donation 

If and when you can no longer care for yourself and must rely on a medical agent, the biggest thing you will need to do is trust they will act on your behalf. You can help ensure your medical agent acts within their powers by reaching out for legal help to learn about your estate planning options.