Healthcare Power of Attorney

What Is a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Why Is It Important?

The process for designating a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPA) agent responsible for determination of incapacitation and requirements and informed consent for medical care is performed by way of advance directives in a written living will. Living will formation enables a person to specify their preferences for medical procedure, healthcare treatment, and end-of-life care in advance. Appointment of HCPA is accompanied by designation of family or other responsible party as a healthcare agent, who is a guardian entrusted with the duty to make medical informed consent decisions on behalf of the person whom the living will concerns.

Living Will Directives

The two main priorities of living will directives are the appointment of a healthcare proxy for purposes of HCPA, and the creation of advance directives laying forth the types of medical procedure and treatment requested in case of emergency, or terminal illness. The express consent of the living will originator precedes all other decisions made in the future about that person’s medical care, thus protecting their right to define healthcare interventions directly rather than at the mercy of a doctor or other party later involved in the decision.

Written HCPA directives correspondent with hospital or other medical provider record, requires notarized authorization of a healthcare proxy or agent. A healthcare proxy can be revoked by a living will originator who still has full mental capacity at any time by destroying an existing HCPA and replacing it with a new one.

HPOA Agent Designation

The designated agent appointed in a living will is usually a loved one serving as the person’s trustee or guardian once they have been diagnosed to be incapacitated. Healthcare proxy by a physician is generally required for determining incapacitation of a patient, though in some cases a court may also be involved. On transfer of living will obligations to an agent, coordinated response to physician or other health care provider recommendations is pursued in adherence with the instructions of those advance directives. In some cases, a living will’s originator may request the advisory of a licensed attorney specializing in estate law to be part of the decision. In such circumstance, the terms and conditions to exercise of HPOA may be further defined by an estate’s trust or a person’s request to be relocated to another state or facility.

State-by-State Portability

Most U.S. states accept the health care directives of the other forty-nine states of the union. There are some cases where living will advance directives are not recognized due to illegality of medical procedure (i.e., euthanasia) in some states. Insofar that a living will directives for HCPA are considered valid, they must be compliant with the laws of the jurisdiction where a healthcare intervention is being proscribed by a physician. Planned giving specialists working with nonprofit charitable giving strategies supported by estate trust contributors with living will directives, can find out more about the role of HCPA agents affecting end-of-life decision.

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