Should I Have a Health Care Power of Attorney

Each state has laws that authorizes its residents to create a special Power of Attorney in which you designate an Agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. The Power of Attorney for Health Care (POA-HC) can also be used to provide instructions to your Agent concerning the type of care you do or do not want. This is an extremely important privilege, and every adult (age 18 or older) should have a POA-HC. Even adult children who live at home or who are attending college should have a POA-HC.

The person you select for your Health Care Agent should be someone who not only knows you well, but also understands your views about continuing health care in circumstances where you are terminally ill or suffering from a permanent loss of consciousness. Remember, these decisions are of the heart and do not necessarily require the same financial skills that may be needed to administer your estate. In fact, the person who is best to manage the dollar may be the very last person you would want making life and death decisions for you.

Your spouse, other family members, or close friends are usually good candidates to be the Health Care Agent. But, whomever you choose, it is important that you thoroughly discuss with your Agent your desires concerning whether you should receive or refuse health care services under various situations. Your estate planning attorney should be able to provide you with a list of questions that address these issues for discussion with your intended Health Care Agent.

The State of Wisconsin provides a form health care document that can be used to designate your Agent. Alternatively, your estate planning attorney can draft a customized POA-HC for you. If you reside in two different states for significant parts of the year, you should have a POA-HC that is recognized under the laws of both states or a separate POA-HC for each state to ensure your Agent is a recognized decision-maker.

Posted in: Estate Planning