Understanding Health Care Power of Attorney

Long Island Advanced Health Care Directives Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawAs your loved ones get older, there may come a time when they will be unable to make healthcare decisions on their own accord. When this happens, you’ll want to have a health care power of attorney, advanced directive, or proxy in place, particularly if your loved one is living on his or her own.

These important legal documents are extremely beneficial in cases in which a parent is unexpectedly involved in an accident or contracts a life-threatening or debilitating illness. Any elder adult, single parent, or individual living on his or her own can benefit from having a health care power of attorney in place.

Assigning power of attorney to a trusted loved one or friend gives a person peace of mind in knowing his or her wishes pertaining to medical treatment and end-of-life care will be followed. You don’t want your loved one put through unnecessary pain and suffering for the purpose of prolonging life, if that is not what he or she wishes. You don’t want decisions to be made by those who may not know you or those who can’t be trusted to focus on your best interests.

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A health care power of attorney is a legally-binding document that assigns rights and responsibilities for health care decisions to another person. The person who is granted the power of attorney would then have the authority to make life and death decisions in situations where the individual is no longer able to do so.

What Exact Decision-Making Power Does a Health Proxy Give?

As a health proxy or health power of attorney gives a person decision-making power over any and all medical – as well as end-of-life – decisions, you will want to make sure the person you choose understands your wishes and can be trusted to follow them. Decision-making power may include:

  • Whether you should be admitted or discharged from a hospital
  • What treatment or medication you do or do not want to receive
  • What parties can have access to your medical records
  • When you should be resuscitated
  • Whether you should be put on life support
  • Whether you want doctors to go to extraordinary measures to keep you alive

Who Should You Choose As Your Proxy?

Giving another person the power to make decisions about your medical needs, health care, and end-of-life treatment is an important life decision. The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging recommends people choose an agent who:

  • Will take the time to talk with you about your wishes, your health care priorities, and any end-of-life needs.
  • Will understand what you want and faithfully do what you wish when the time comes.
  • Lives nearby or can easily travel to you if the situation arises.
  • You trust with your life.
  • Will not give in to family members’ arguments or conflicting opinions, but will follow your wishes as laid out.
  • Will not bend to medical personnel’s recommendations, if these go against your wishes.
  • Will be an unwavering advocate for you.

Choosing health care providers, nursing home staff, doctors, government representatives from organizations that have a financial responsibility for your care, court-assigned guardians, or individuals who have health power of attorney for numerous people is not advised. You need someone you can trust to make the same decision you would make, if you were able.

Legal Assistance with Advanced Health Care Directives

If you are interested in creating an advanced health care directive, health care proxy, or living will, we recommend you speak with a skilled Long Island advanced directives attorney right away. An attorney from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help prepare these documents and give you the peace of mind afforded by knowing that your interests are protected.

Contact our firm now to find out how to get started.

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