Just like with your house or any other property you may have, at any point you are welcome to appoint a power of attorney (POA) who will make critical decisions regarding your health. Once you have set this up, you will be named as the ‘principal’ and the ‘agent’ will be whoever you appoint. When it comes to health, they are potentially the most important decisions that we have to make and so appointing a POA that we trust can be pivotal for when we are no longer able to make such decisions. If you happen to be in a poor state of health, your trusted ‘agent’ will be able to make decisions on your behalf judging by discussions you may have had previously.
Determination of Powers - With this being said, what power does the agent hold if you’re unable to make an important decision and to what extent do you have a say over these powers? Nowadays, you will always have a say over your health and health care as long as you are of a sound state of mind. When you appoint a POA, this doesn’t change and you can grant the powers with which they will be given in any given circumstance.
Furthermore, you can provide as much detail as you want, cancel your POA if you’re of a sound state of mind, and even appoint a backup agent just in case the primary agent cannot or will not make a decision. Generally, the following decisions will be in the hands of your health care POA agent;
• At what point life-sustaining treatment should end
• What treatments should be refused due to personal or religious reasons
• Life-sustaining treatments and any decisions that comes along with the process
• What to do after you pass away
• Whether your body will be given to medical research
As you can see, many of these topics are actually quite broad which is why you will be advised to give as much detail as possible. When you assign an agent, they should be aware of exactly what you want in each circumstance. In addition to being able to cancel or assign a backup, you can also set a time limit on the POA. If you wanted the agreement to last forever more, it can be signed until death. However, some choose to appoint an agent until a certain age so it all depends on your beliefs and what your main aim of the agent will be.
So there we have it, a health care POA is essentially the same as any other power of attorney but looking after your health as opposed to anything else. As well as allowing them access to certain decisions, you can decide how long you want them to remain in this ‘agreement’ as well as assigning a backup and cancelling at any point in time.