When Do You Need a Health Care Power of Attorney?
A health care power of attorney is a legal document that specifies who has authority to make health care decisions on your behalf, and provides direction and limitations on that person's decision making authority. Everyone can benefit from having a valid health care power of attorney. However, people in particular situations should be especially encouraged to execute an up-to-date health care power of attorney.
Widows, Widowers, Divorcees, and other Single Persons
For people who are not presently married, a health care power of attorney answers the important question of who should be making health care decisions. If you are a widow with three children, do you have a preference as to whom makes medical decisions?
Those Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness
Living with a chronic illness is a difficult task for the patient and his or her loved ones. When a particular illness or disease is known, particular risks and complications become concerns for the future. By incorporating relevant risks from your individual situation, a health care power of attorney can be particularly well-suited to address your future medical decision making needs.
Persons with an Old Power of Attorney
Sometimes, an outdated health care power of attorney may be worse than no power of attorney at all. If the people you would prefer to have involved in your health care decisions have changed, or your wishes for health care have changed, your power of attorney likely needs to be updated. While well-drafted health care powers of attorney are not high-maintainance instruments, they benefit from periodic review.
Person in Perfect Health
You are blessed with perfect health. Why would you execute a health care power of attorney? If you are like most people in perfect health, you have never discussed with anyone your preferences for health care in the event of a major illness, or how to proceed should you die unexpectedly. If you have preferences, recording them in a health care power of attorney removes uncertainty in what would be an unexpectedly trying time.