What is a durable power of attorney and why do you need one?

We’re living through a pandemic.

It is more important than ever for seniors to think about what kinds of medical decisions you want to be made for you in case you cannot make them yourself.

A medical durable power of attorney is document that gives someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf. Of course, this would be in a scenario where you cannot make those decisions yourself.

Although COVID-19 can affect people of all ages and different demographics have recovered from the illness, it is important for older adults to clearly state in writing, who can make decisions for them in case they’re unable to do so.

Even in the absence of COVID-19, accidents, illness and age-related dementia call for older adults to prepare a durable power of attorney.

Selecting a durable power of attorney for healthcare

Nobody can dictate who you choose as your durable power of attorney.

However, we recommend that you choose someone you trust and who is reliable.

It is best if you can work with a lawyer to draft the legal document when you’re appointing the power of attorney.

Can I name more than one person as a power of attorney?

If you live in the United States, you can name more than one person as your durable power of attorney.

However, it is important to specify exactly what each of their roles in decision-making will be.

And whether or not one decision supersedes another should they have conflicting ideas on a medical decision.

We highly recommend that you have a conversation with your lawyer so you can understand the pros and cons of choosing one or multiple powers of attorney.

What happens after I name my medical power of attorney (POA)?

You will work with your lawyer to draft the legal document.

Once it is finished and all the needed signatures are on your document, you can save the document in different places.

  • Your lawyers will have a copy.
  • You can save a copy in your home in a place where your spouse or named power of attorney knows.
  • If you have a personal doctor, you could also ask them to keep one with your medical records.

Having a durable power of attorney long before you need it, can prevent family misunderstandings.

And it will prevent a court of law (instead of your loved ones) from making crucial medical decisions for you.

Also note that, a POA may be called a “healthcare proxy”, “agent” or “healthcare surrogate” depending on where you live.

Read this post where we talk more extensively about estate planning for older adults.