Put Your Health Wishes In Writing With A Medical Power Of Attorney
Similar to the financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney allows a client to designate someone else to make medical decisions for the client if he or she becomes incapacitated. The most classic example of a medical power of attorney exists when an aging parent grants their child a medical power of attorney to make decisions for the parent as they become incapable of making their own medical decisions.
Unlike a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney can only be effective upon the client’s later incapacity. So, a parent cannot grant their adult child a medical power of attorney and then immediately abdicate the responsibility to make their own medical decisions. Rather, the adult child can only step in and make decisions when the parent has been determined to lack the ability to make appropriate decisions for themselves.
Someone creating a medical power of attorney can designate a single person or multiple people to make their medical decisions for them, and the person taking on the role of decision-making owes a fiduciary duty to the person for whom they are making decisions. As a result of the fiduciary duty, the agent under the medical power of attorney must put the interest of the person for whom they are making decisions ahead of their own interests as they make those decisions.
Creating a medical power of attorney before an incapacity occurs is critically important in helping to avoid the necessity to create a Guardianship if someone suddenly becomes incapacitated. Powers of attorney are an important part of any comprehensive Estate Plan.