Medical power of attorney, also known as a health proxy, is crucial because it allows a trusted agent (generally a family member or friend) to make health-care decisions on behalf of the one granting authority. A medical power of attorney helps doctors determine treatment and life support. Hospitals do not like taking responsibility in determining health care decisions.
A medical power of attorney differs from a living will because it allows someone to make health-care decisions for him. A living will only allows expression of wishes concerning life-sustaining procedures. Both living will and power of attorney are advance directives.
Things You'll Need
- Power of attorney
- Physician visit
Select a relative, friend or organization as an agent for acting on behalf of health-care issues. It is important to select someone trusted, and someone who will not abuse powers granted. Usually there is not a financial incentive in serving as agent. The agent does not need to agree with all directives, but must respect the personal rights of the one granting authority.
Choose an alternative agent. There is always the possibility that the original agent or appointed organization either will not be able to serve or will refuse to serve. Thus, the option of appointing a successor is necessary.
Review mental competency before signing any documents. If there is a question about mental competency, have a physician evaluation, which states the results of competency in writing. This means that there must be understanding of the powers granted, and the implications of having someone else make decisions.
Go to a stationary store to obtain printed forms reviewed for legality in your state. Or go to the local hospital, and ask for the ombudsman's office where these forms are free. The person granting authority must sign the power of attorney form, and must legally be an adult to complete a valid document.
Notarize the signature on a power of attorney. Notarization makes it more difficult for someone to challenge the signature's validity. It also allows for recording of the document, necessary for use with real estate transactions. The majority of states require either a notarized medical power of attorney or signature observed by two witnesses.