In the event that you can't make a healthcare or medical decision for yourself, do you know who you have named to make that medical decision for you? While you may have someone in mind, did you know that that person cannot legally make medical decisions for you unless you have authorized them to do so in a power of attorney.
The power of attorney for healthcare is a document that allows you to designate someone to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make such decisions for yourself. In California, you can name more than one person in your healthcare power of attorney as long as they are named in an order of succession – as only one person at a time is permitted to make the decision under the laws of California.
The power of attorney addresses your desires concerning end-of-life and after-life decisions, such as those concerning life sustaining treatment. In our office, we find that most of our clients prefer to not undergo unncessary life support and other life sustaining measure and the power of attorney is meant to guide and direct their agent (the person named to make the decision). Without a proper power of attorney in place, your loved ones generally do not have the authority to make such decisions on your behalf. Unfortunately, in situations where a power of attorney is not in place, we have seen bitter battles ensue between the loved ones and the hospital, doctor, or other medical personnel.
This can all be avoided through the proper preparation of a power of attorney. In your power of attorney for healthcare (also known as an Advance Medical Directive), you would also address your desires concerning the disposition of your remains (burial versus cremation), whether you authorize an autopsy, and whether you authorize organ donation. While these things are not particularly enjoyable to discuss today, it saves your loved ones from having to go through a great deal of uncertainty, headache and guessing at a later time.
The power of attorney for healthcare is a document that must be created and signed today while you're still healthy. Therefore, waiting until it is too late is not an option. Please be sure to have your healthcare power of attorney in place as soon as possible. It will give you peace of mind today and benefit you and your loved ones tremendously in the future. If you have questions about your healthcare power of attorney, or would like to create a new one, please call our office at (714) 282-7588 and one of our experienced estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of James F. Roberts & Associates, APC, will be pleased to walk you through this process.