A Healthcare Power of Attorney is an important document for everyone to have. This document gives someone, termed an agent, the power to act on behalf of another, the principal. The principal executes the Healthcare Power of Attorney and gives the agent the power to make medical decisions in the event that the principal is unable to make their own health care decisions.
What provisions should be included in the Healthcare Power of Attorney? How long should this document be? Some practitioners prefer a longer document, one that spells out what kind of specific powers are given to the agent, and to some extent what kind of care the principal would desire in various circumstances. For example, if long-term care was needed, would the principal prefer to receive that care in their home to the extent possible, or would the principal prefer an institutional setting? Does the agent have authority to consent to psychiatric treatment?
However, some clients might prefer a shorter Healthcare Power of Attorney. This type of Power of Attorney simply names the agent and has a few other administrative provisions, such as those regarding durability or a HIPAA provision. Clients may rationalize that saying less is more, that having the trusted agent make the decision based on the circumstances at hand is best. For example, a principal may have expressed in his Healthcare Power of Attorney that he does not give the agent the authority to consent to treatment that keeps the principal alive by use of a ventilator. However, this type of treatment is common for COVID-19 treatment – the ventilator is used to keep the patient breathing and the patient can be perfectly healthy after the virus has passed. Did the principal really mean that he wouldn't want the ventilator treatment for COVID-19?
Also, what if a client doesn't know what powers he would want to grant to an agent, or know his wishes regarding certain types of care? Or, what if the Healthcare Power of Attorney must be executed in haste? A Healthcare Power of Attorney that doesn't go into specifics with regard to specific powers or desired care can be executed more quickly, and allow the trusted agent to make those decisions when needed.
While ElderDocx, ElderCounsel's elder law document drafting system, will still generate the longer Healthcare Power of Attorney, there will be a new document available – a shorter, streamlined Healthcare Power of Attorney document. This new document, including:
- Why a shorter document can be better for clients.
- A guide for clients to help them work through making difficult decisions at their own pace.
- Is a living will still necessary?
You have invested a lot of time in making your business a success, and it is difficult to think about relinquishing ownership or control of it. Nevertheless, planning is critical in creating a lasting legacy for your family. We can help you put a plan in place that helps you successfully pass your business on to the next generation and ensures that you have a financially secure retirement. Contact our office today at (972) 712-1515 to set up a meeting to discuss this timely topic.