Planning Ahead

The Importance of Assigning a Medical Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy or an advance health care directive, is a legal document that specifies a person to oversee your medical care if you become incapacitated from an illness and are no longer able to communicate. This surrogate-decision maker (designated by you) is referred to as an agent, and is able to make decisions regarding your health.

The healthcare proxy gives the agent certain powers including opting on surgery, and terminating life support or an artificial feeding apparatus. Although these forms are widely available online it is sometimes best to hire a legal advocate familiar with the law to ensure that your wishes are fully met.

Health care proxies are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and a legal advocate familiar with the process can help safeguard you from accidentally omitting certain rights from your agent’s authority. Creating a personalized healthcare proxy ensure that your individual moral beliefs and intentions will be honored and accurately represented.

Important Things To Remember:

  • You are not able to designate your medical provider or their employees as your agent
  • In some states, if you designate your spouse as your agent and later divorce, their rights as your agent are automatically dissolved (The Arizona revocation and disqualification statute can be found here A.R.S. 36-3202)
  • Designate an alternative agent just in case your primary agent can no longer fulfill their duties
  • Many states require the completed document to be signed by a witness (or two) in a notary's presence to make the document valid (Arizona requires a witness under A.R.S. 36-3221)

A medical power of attorney is by no means an irrevocable document. Should you become reasonably healthy or you revoke the agent's privileges then the document is terminated and considered invalid. If there was a time constraint outlined on the power of attorney then the agent's privileges will naturally expire on that date.

As always, feel free to ask your medical providers for assistance as it is their job to protect your interests and allow you a defree of control over your medical care. Creating a medical power of attorney will ensure that no matter what the future may hold, decisions regarding any medical treatment and care are in line with your own desicres and expectations.

 

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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