As an adult, you get to make decisions for yourself, which children do not always get to do. You can choose which doctor or hospital you go to, what medication or operation you will accept and more. Yet, a severe illness or injury could leave you unable to either make those decisions or communicate your wishes.
That is where a health care power of attorney comes in. You give someone else the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf, should they ever need to. It is essential to include one in your estate plan.
Can a health care power of attorney make decisions that go against my wishes?
You might be worried about naming a health care power of attorney for the first time, but you should not be, although you need to choose wisely. There are strict limits to the named person’s powers. For example, they could not force you into a hospital tomorrow, have the nurses tie you to the bed and inject you with a mind-controlling drug.
A health care power of attorney only comes into play when you are unable to communicate for yourself. If an accident renders you unable to talk, but you can still write down your wishes or bang once on the table for yes and twice for no, then you retain control of what happens to you.
You can stipulate specific medical requests as part of your health care directive
Let’s say you name your mom as health care power of attorney. You know that she will do everything she can to keep you alive, even if that means you stay alive for months in a vegetative state, which you do not want. You can give her health care power of attorney but write in your health care directive that under no circumstances should medical staff artificially sustain your life. In other words, you give her the ability to make all the decisions except any you premake.
Planning for ill health is just one of many things an estate plan can accomplish. Understanding more allows you to determine your future rather than leaving it to chance.