A health care power of attorney is a means by which you can appoint another person who, if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions pertaining to your medical treatment for yourself, will step in and make those decisions in your stead. This can prevent uncertainty, disagreement, and confusion in the midst of an emotion-laden healthcare crisis or a long-term illness. If your incapacity is temporary, you will assume full control over the decision-making process as soon as you are able.
A healthcare power of attorney may substitute for or be an addition to your living will, which provides written instructions regarding what medical interventions are or are not acceptable in a terminal illness. It is a good idea to have both in place, as situations may arise that are not covered by your living will, and having a person monitoring your treatment allows decisions to be made as your illness progresses and your needs change. You can decide what types of decisions to include in your healthcare power of attorney and reserve others for yourself. For example, you can give your healthcare representative the right to make day-to-day care decisions but not to allow the use of a feeding tube or to allow you to be resuscitated if your heart stops (in a terminal illness).
It is important to select someone who knows you well and understands your feelings about the kind of care you would prefer in various situations, because this person, as your proxy, will have the responsibility for seeing that all decisions that are made are in keeping with your personal wishes, regardless of the beliefs or philosophies of anyone else. The person you authorize to make your medical decisions may or may not be the same one designated to handle your financial and personal affairs in a Durable Power of Attorney.
You may select a spouse, adult child, friend, or significant other to grant a healthcare power of attorney. You should have an in-depth discussion with this person before you make this important decision, to make sure he or she is willing to put your wishes first, regardless of personal feelings. You should also make sure you select someone with the emotional stability to make difficult decisions in a crisis and to stand firm in the face of opposition to your choices if they differ from the recommendations of your physician or the beliefs of other members of your family.
Granting a Health Care Power of Attorney is an important decision requiring a great deal of thought and in-depth contemplation. The attorney who is handling your estate planning will be able to guide you in choosing the right person and in drawing up the appropriate legal documents. Ask your lawyer about having a combination of advance directives, including a general Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and a Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney.
It is difficult to contemplate your death or incapacitation, and many people put off making these important decisions. But keep in mind that it is an act of love to arrange your affairs when you are still able to do so, to prevent your family and other loved ones from having to guess what you would want at a time when they are suffering emotionally because of your illness.
In Atlantic and Cape May Counties, you can get the expert legal guidance you need to help you through the process. Don’t wait until illness strikes; it may be too late. Make your wishes known now. Call the offices of Barnes Law Group, LLC today. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys have 50 years of experience helping New Jersey citizens plan for the future through expert estate planning and preparation of advance directives in keeping with your individual needs and wishes. We have offices located near you in North Wildwood and Egg Harbor Township.