Estate Planning isn’t just about planning for your death. It’s about planning for your continued care while you’re living. In addition to Powers of Attorney and Living Wills, you should have a Healthcare Power of Attorney (“POA”) directing who should handle your health care decisions for you when you can’t or don’t want to.
I always say “I care more about what happens to me while I’m living than about what happens to my stuff after I’m gone.” In the event of your incapacity, a Healthcare POA saves you from having a guardian appointed for you by a judge who doesn’t know you. Think about what it would be like for you if your least responsible family member got control of you and your “estate.” If that isn’t enough to scare you into completing it, then consider this:A Healthcare POA also allows your loved ones:
- To know what’s going on. A POA allows whomever you appoint to talk to doctors when you’re hurt or sick. (Instead of being blocked by privacy laws.) This is critically important if the person you’d want to be there with you and for you is not a family member!!
- To avoid treatment delays. A POA allows your designated person to consent to treatment or surgery if you are too sick to do so for yourself.
- To get the best care. A POA allows someone else to check you into a hospital or other facility of their choosing according to the circumstances existing at that time. Someone else can be your eyes and ears!
- To make end of life decisions. Without a POA there could be a lot of disagreement about end-of-life decisions (life support decisions). A Health Care POA and Living Will together allows you to give guidance about end of life issues, like when to “pull the plug.”
- To have instructions from you regarding organ donation.