When it comes to your health care, you should make sure you
have a health care power of attorney as part of your estate plan.
A health care power of attorney conveys to your agent the
ability to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable
to do so yourself. The amount of authority you give to your agent is a very
important decision you must make, in consultation with your
estate planning attorney.
Just like a
financial power of attorney, not all health care powers of attorney are the
same. These documents should be carefully customized and drafted to reflect your
values when it comes to your own health care.
A health care power of attorney appoints an agent to make
health care decisions for you. This is different from a living will, which is a
document in which you express your wishes when it comes to the type of care you
wish to receive if your condition becomes terminal. It is important to
coordinate these two documents:
A living will states your wishes regarding life support
and the provision of nutrition and hydration.
A health care power of attorney empowers someone to carry
out those wishes, as well as all other designated health care decisions.
You should also consider the importance of
granting necessary powers to your agent for
mental health treatment. In
Arizona, this power must be expressed either in the health care power of
attorney or in a separate mental health power of attorney. One of the
necessary powers is the ability of your agent to place you in a level-one
behavioral facility should the need exist. Without this express power, a
guardianship or conservatorship
may become necessary in the future, at considerable expense.
Make the right choices, and have them explained to you by an
estate planning attorney. You are welcome to contact me for more information.