Designating a power of attorney for healthcare decisions is an important aspect of estate planning that can ensure that your medical wishes are respected if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. A power of attorney for healthcare, also known as a healthcare proxy or advance health care directive, is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes.
When designating a power of attorney for healthcare decisions, it’s important to choose someone you trust and who is willing to carry out your wishes. This person can be a family member, friend, or professional healthcare agent. It’s also important to have a conversation with them about your healthcare wishes and preferences, as well as any values or principles that are important to you.
The power of attorney for healthcare document should be in writing and should be signed and witnessed or notarized. It should also be kept in a safe place where it can be easily accessed by the person you have designated as your healthcare agent.
It’s also important to understand that a power of attorney for healthcare is not the same as a living will. A living will is a document that outlines your end-of-life medical care preferences, while a power of attorney for healthcare allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. Both documents can be used together to ensure that your wishes are respected. In California, these two documents are combined in what is commonly known as an Advance Health Care Directive.
Be sure to work with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that your documents are in order. Another important consideration is dealing with the medical privacy law commonly known as HIPAA.