The Responsibilities of Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Legal Article

The Responsibilities of Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Healthcare Powers of Attorney & Durable Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney form appoints someone to make health care decisions for you. However, it does not eliminate the need for a living will or other advance directives. If you do not have a power of attorney, an advance directive will instruct your physician as to the degree of care that you desire. If you do have a power of attorney, an advance directive provides your attorney with guidance on how to act.

What is the Health Care Power of Attorney?

A health care power of attorney is a legal document that is effective upon disability which appoints one or more persons, known as the attorney-in-fact, to make healthcare decisions during any period of incapacity. The health care power of attorney is only valid during your lifetime or until you revoke it. As long as you remain competent you can make any changes you like to your health care power of attorney.  If you experience incapacity prior to creating a healthcare power of attorney a court will have to appoint a guardian. An attorney-in-fact may act immediately upon incapacitation while a court will not appoint a guardian for 8-10 weeks. Furthermore, establishing a guardian will cost thousands of dollars.

What are the Responsibilities of a Healthcare Power of Attorney

Someone that is appointed as a healthcare power of attorney will be responsible for a person’s medical and health decisions if they become incapacitated. Some healthcare power of attorney documents will layout specific details for how the individual would like care administered. However, for a variety of reasons, many healthcare power of attorney forms do not lay out specific treatment plans. Thus, even if the person that asks you to be their healthcare power of attorney seems to have a plan, you should take the time to speak with them about their healthcare wishes.

In situations where a healthcare power of attorney is broad with little specifics, you must make healthcare decisions that best fall in line with what you think the patient would want. For example, someone might prefer tube feeding for themselves. However, the principal might not want tube feeding under the same circumstances. It is important to separate yourself from your own wants and emotions. This ensures that you are creating a healthcare plan that best fits the wants of the principal.

While the law does not require anyone to have a conversation with their healthcare power of attorney, there are many benefits associated with doing so. The first benefit is that as the principal, you will receive your end of life healthcare wishes. Additionally, a power of attorney takes pressure off their family members from guessing what healthcare decisions they would like. However, if you do not have a detailed conversation with your healthcare power of attorney, you are leaving them in the dark to guess what decisions you would like to have been made.

Contact our DC Law Office for More Information

For more information regarding the responsibilities of healthcare powers of attorney, please contact Antonoplos & Associates at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.