The Basics of a Medical Power of Attorney


When you’re considering healthcare decisions for the future, you’ll want to think about who will make those decisions if you become unable to do it yourself. The person you choose should be someone you trust to represent you for the purpose of healthcare alone. Keep in mind, this person could determine whether you are on life support or taken off if the time ever comes, so it should be someone who cares enough to make the right decision. This person should be named in a legal document called a “Medical Power of Attorney.”


Is It the Same as a Living Will?

Your medical power of attorney is not the same as a living will, which is a document of decisions you have made for yourself. One example of the difference between the two regards life support. In a living will, you would make a statement of whether you want to be kept alive by machines beyond a particular amount of time or if there is no hope that your condition will improve. In a medical power of attorney, you would leave that decision up to your representative so he or she can take all the information and make an informed decision when you are unable to review the facts yourself. Keep in mind that you should have both documents. Your medical power of attorney needs to follow the decisions you outlined in your living will.


When Does a Medical Power of Attorney Come Into Play?

Your doctor or psychologist will have to determine when you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. When this happens, your medical power of attorney will come into play. Your doctor may make this determination based on unconsciousness or being otherwise incapacitated. Some factors that a doctor may look at include:


  • Communication – Even if all you can do is nod your head, your doctor could determine you are capable of making your own decisions if you have the ability to communicate effectively. If not, your medical power of attorney could come into play.
  • Processing – Your ability to process information and make an informed decision will be looked at closely. Your doctor will decide if your processing abilities are advanced enough to make the right choices for yourself.
  • Understanding – Your doctor will conduct an assessment on your basic understanding of information, as well as the consequences of certain decisions.


Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

To learn more about a medical power of attorney and what you can do to prepare for those unexpected health events, contact an estate planning lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer in Memphis, TN, today. You may never need to use the documents they help you prepare, but it’s important you have them in place as a way to protect yourself when you are unable to do it on your own.


Thanks to Wiseman Bray PLLC for their insight into the basics of a medical power of attorney.