A power of attorney (POA) for health care is a form that lets you choose a person to make health care decisions for you. The person you choose will then be able to make health care decisions for you when you can't make decisions for yourself. You can also use the power of attorney for health care to tell the person what decisions you want made for you.
The person you give the power of attorney to is the agent and you are the principal. The agent is usually a spouse, a close friend, or a trusted relative.
You must create the power of attorney while you are still able to make decisions for yourself. You can't create a power of attorney after an injury or illness prevents you from making your own decisions. This means that you must be mentally competent to create a power of attorney.
You decide how much power to give the agent. You can give the agent permission to make all of your health care decisions. Or you can give the agent the power to act only in specific situations.
A few examples of possible decisions your agent can make include:
- Health care
- Medical treatment
- Admitting you to a hospital or other facility
- Discharging you from a hospital or other facility
- Making end-of-life decisions
- Authorizing an autopsy or donation of your body to medical research
- Deciding what happens to your body when you die
You may also limit the powers that your agent may make for you. For example, some types of treatment might be against your religious beliefs. If so, you can prevent the agent from allowing those treatment by saying so in the power of attorney.
If you are giving someone power of attorney for healthcare, you may also want to look into Giving someone power of attorney for property. Someone with power of attorney for property has the ability to handle your money and make financial decisions for you.
Updated: January 2017