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What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

By 

Jennifer Mcgee

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Updated on  

January 3, 2023
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7 Mins

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In the US, people die daily in isolation on their deathbed with no one by their side. This list of people may include abandoned parents or children, older people, single parents, orphans, etc.

WHO has reported the abuse of older people at the hands of the caretaking staff and faculties. Sometimes the relatives or children are not in the same state or country. There can be a drastic reduction in the abuse against patients if they have representatives.

With a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you can appoint a representative to make decisions on your behalf concerning the medical treatment if you lose the ability to communicate to exert your wishes or make decisions due to any terminal illness, irreversible coma, or injury. 

Healthcare Power of Attorney Definition

A Medical Power of Attorney (POA)/Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPA) is a legal document like Living Will. A Healthcare Power of Attorney legally authorizes the third person who is trustable to give consent and directions regarding end-of-life or medical/critical care of the testator on his behalf. Like an agent is appointed to act on behalf of the principal concerning his medical treatment. A person authorized to act on behalf of the testator is called Attorney in Fact.

Other names of healthcare power of attorney:

  • Medical power of attorney
  • Power of Attorney for healthcare
  • Health Care Proxy
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“Should have done this before, had made it up to be really hard in my head. This was super easy!”

Why is Healthcare Power of Attorney important?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the estimate of deaths by accident that 9,560 people died in road accidents in the first quarter of 2022 and the National Safety Council reports that 21,340 motor-vehicle deaths were recorded in the last six months of 2022.

In a country where we face a magnitude of accidental deaths and injuries every day, is it relevant anymore to ask why we need Healthcare Power of Attorney? 

Just imagine a friend who met with an accident and lost his capabilities to think or express. But he has you as his voice; you can defend him; you now can be his shield; you can convey with the help of the Healthcare Power of Attorney what your friend would prefer and his decisions on the treatment and operations on his body. 

Decisions about the treatments and operations you would like to receive are an exclusive and crucial right. Your consent and comfort must be the priority and a document of Healthcare Power of Attorney can save you from many unwanted situations.

Who can make a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

Anyone can make a Healthcare Power of Attorney at any point in time, if

  1. He is an adult i.e., above 18 years of age.
  2. He is a sound-minded person which means that he can understand the consequences of making a Healthcare Power of Attorney and the laws applied to it.

Who is an Attorney in Fact?

A person legally authorized in the Healthcare/Medical Power of Attorney (POA) to make decisions on behalf of the testator is called the Attorney in Fact. The eligibility criteria for appointing an Attorney in Fact (AIF) are different in the states of the US. 

So you keep in mind that you are fulfilling the criteria adherence to the laws of the state you belong to while appointing the AIF, along with the following conditions:

  • The person must be an adult and sound-minded.
  • Trustable to adhere to your wishes and intentions.
  • Trustable to defend you if there is any disagreement about your medical care.
  • He wanted to be your Attorney in Fact of his own free will to take care of your health affairs.
  • But he should not be your doctor or one of the caretakers.

Other names for Attorney in Fact

  • Authority Proxy
  • Health-care Agent
  • Health-care Surrogate
  • Health-care Representative
  • Patient Advocate

How to set up a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

A Healthcare Power of Attorney may include your sign, names of witnesses, their signatures, etc. in adherence to your state’s requirements. Every state has different requirements to be followed. Some states ask for witnesses and notaries, others look for different criteria to be followed. 

You can easily create an online Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney that is state-specific and designed by Attorneys like the one TrulyWill provides. Or you may see a Lawyer and take a hand to make a traditional Living Will. Requirement of states to write a Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Healthcare Power of Attorney is called by different names in states. Below is the list of all states for you to check what Healthcare Power of Attorney is called in your state:

When does a Healthcare Power of Attorney come into effect?

Healthcare power of attorney comes into effect on the date a testator (maker of the document) loses his capacity to express his wishes and consent and his ability to think and make decisions.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

When can a Healthcare Power of Attorney be revoked?

Healthcare power of attorney can be modified, changed, revoked, and canceled at any time by the testator. Sometimes the court may also revoke a Healthcare power of attorney on the ground of fraud. 

The Healthcare power of attorney would stand revoked in the event of divorce if the spouse of the testator was appointed as the Attorney in fact/ representative.

Living Will v Healthcare Power of Attorney v Advance Directives

There is no difference between Advance Directives and Healthcare power of attorney because when a person chooses to write a Living Will along with a document of Healthcare power of attorney, it is said to be an Advance Directive. So an Advance Directive is a combination of the documents of Living Will and Healthcare power of attorney.

Where we can say that Living Will and Healthcare power of attorney complement each other in the smooth implementation of an Advance Healthcare Plan, we have to acknowledge the difference between these two documents.

A Living Will helps to exert the wishes and consent of the testator (maker of a document) concerning his Medicare and treatment, whereas, Healthcare power of attorney appoints an agent to make decisions on behalf of the testator concerning his medical treatment and health affairs. 

Both come into force when the testator loses his ability to communicate or think and make decisions in health situations. 

But the prevailing document here is the Living Will. The instructions concerning critical care in the Living Will are always preferred over Healthcare power of attorney. But if any unexpected situation emerges that has not been addressed or covered under Living Will, then the Attorney or Healthcare Agent will take decisions on behalf of the testator. The doctors will look into the Living Will first to find the desires and wishes of the testator.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person to make decisions on the testator’s financial affairs when he is debilitated/incapacitated from speaking or making decisions. Whereas Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is another name for Healthcare Power of Attorney, you can check in the above list by what name Healthcare Power of Attorney is known.

What is a Power of Attorney for Healthcare?

Power of attorney for Healthcare is just another name for Healthcare Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney.

Does Living Will supersede the Medical Power of Attorney?

Yes, the Living Will will always be preferred over the Medical Power of Attorney. If instructions are not found or clear under Living Will concerning any specific health issue then only the appointed Healthcare agent (an agent who is authorized by the Will maker to make decisions on his behalf) may act.

What is a Power of Attorney for Healthcare?

Power of attorney for Healthcare is just another name for Healthcare Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney.

What to write or say in the Medical Power of Attorney for a child?

The states may vary in this regard. The forms and requirements are different in many states. Some states may require a Medical power of attorney to be signed in presence of witnesses, or notarized in front of a public notary.
Jennifer Mcgee
Parent to five young children. Expert in Estate Planning, Probate, and Family Law Matters. Volunteer with Victim’s Advocates in the local sheriff's department...
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