What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney

When you are healthy and in charge of your own life, it can be difficult to fathom that a day may come when you are incapable of making decisions on your own behalf, medical or otherwise. The reality is that accidents, a sickness or illness may incapacitate you, preventing you from making your own healthcare decisions.

Should such a day ever come, a health care power of attorney will ensure that your healthcare wishes are still honored.

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

In Arizona, completing a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney form will let you appoint someone you trust to direct your health care and make medical decisions on your behalf when you are incapable of doing so.

Completing this form will not let the individual you appointed make health care decisions on your behalf unless you are no longer capable of making health care choices on your own.

Decisions a Health Care Power of Attorney Can Make on Your Behalf

A health care power of attorney can be given a great deal of authority related to consenting to or refusing medical care.

As such, your appointed representative can either consent or refuse to care such as diagnostic, surgical or therapeutic procedures.

Additional authorities given to a health care power of attorney include, but are not limited to:

  • Authorizing health care providers of your choice to provide you with care

  • Obligating your resources and/or your estate to pay for medical services

  • The ability to approve or deny your admission to various health care institutions, assisted living facilities and similar facilities or programs

  • The ability to make basic mental health care decisions

  • The authority to access medical records, possess them and discuss your records with health care providers

Limitations on a Health Care Power of Attorney's Authority

Your health care power of attorney's authority can be limited by you when you complete essential legal forms.

For example, the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney form contains a section where you explicitly list decisions that your representative is not authorized to make on your behalf.

Similarly, you can explicitly indicate your preferences for decisions that may come into play in an end of life scenario, such as:

  • Desires about autopsy

  • Whether you wish to donate organs and to whom

  • Funeral wishes

Other Essential Medical Forms

While health care power of attorney is an important aspect of life planning, there are other legal documents that are essential as well.

For example, an Arizona Living Will states your wishes with regard to so-called "right to die issues".

If you are in a coma or are diagnosed with a terminal illness, completing a Living Will form can allow you to receive only comfort care or to choose that the physicians do everything possible to save your life. A health care power of attorney can be directed to obey what is included in a living will. For this reason, the two legal documents are often used in tandem.

It may also be in your interests to consider an Orange Card, which is a card that communicates to an Emergency Medical Team they are not to emergency resuscitate you should you stop breathing or go into cardiac arrest.

While this card may seem pointless, it is critically important for those who want comfort care only with a terminal illness or individuals who are frail and may be harmed by an emergency resuscitation effort.

In summary, completing a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney form is a great first step toward effective life planning, but you may wish to include other legal documents as part of your life planning strategy.

Contact us at Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC for a legal consultation to discuss whether a health care power of attorney is right for you.