Do I Need a Power of Attorney?
It can be confusing knowing which planning documents are needed for what and which are needed, when. The thing is, most documents must be done before you ever need them. It is when you need them, and they are not done or are not done correctly, that you learn it is sadly, too late. No one wants to think that they could become incapacitated from an accident or an illness, but it happens every day. A correctly executed Power of Attorney that is kept current can save your family a lot of cost and heartache.
Choose Your Representative
The first thing you must do is to figure out who you want to act as your healthcare power of attorney. This person should be someone who you trust and who will act on your behalf in a way you would want them to if you needed them. Someone who has contrary beliefs to yours who will have a struggle enforcing your wishes may not be the best choice. For example, some people believe that humans do not have the right to unplug life support. If you wished to die on your own without life support, this person may be conflicted about honoring that wish. The person you pick must also accept the responsibility and also be in a position to be available if their help were called upon. A back up person is also a great idea in case something should happen to your first option.
Be Clear about Your Wishes
Thinking about the various choices you have for health care under the best and worst situations is next. Imagine the worst case scenario like a stroke where you cannot communicate or an accident where you are in a coma. Think about what you would need or want as treatment. Would you only wish to be made comfortable? Would you want every effort to keep you alive? As you prepare these wishes, your power of attorney will be very grateful serving in the role if you remove as many gray areas as possible.
If you are unsure of some of these situations, many people find comfort and support in speaking to family members, clergy, physicians, or an attorney.
Get the Documents Completed
Once you have identified your power of attorney and are ready to get the documents completed, it is best to seek experienced advice in preparing these important pieces of your plan. An experienced attorney can help you create your Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney; Durable Mental Health Care Power of Attorney; Living Will; HIPAA Medical Directive.
When you have your documents completed, keep them easily accessible so that when they are needed, your representative and family members can get to them. Be sure to inform your family about your choices, your documents, and share where you have stored them.
Being ready for anything in life is always simpler than having to navigate in a reaction setting. The only real threat to your power of attorney is time and life. Be sure to revisit your documents form time to time to make sure they still align with your wishes. If things change and time passes, the older your documents are, the less likely they are to work correctly for you.
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