Health Care Durable Powers of Attorney

A health care durable power of attorney (DPOA) allows you to appoint a health care agent or representative to make decisions on your behalf if your condition doesn’t allow you to make your own decisions. The Health Care DPOA applies to all health care decisions for all types of medical conditions, not just when death is imminent or you are in a vegetative state.  It gives you an opportunity to outline your philosophy as to the types of treatment you want to receive or decline including end of life care. Thus, it is much broader than a living will, which only expresses your desires if you are terminally ill and/or permanently unconscious and are unable to express your wishes regarding the use of life-prolonging procedures.

A health care DPOA may be one of the most important legal documents you will ever sign.

Unfortunately, you never know when you might suddenly need someone to make medical decisions for you. Every year in the United States over 700,000 people have heart attacks and 800,000 suffer a stroke. Having a health care DPOA allows you to prepare in advance for this kind of emergency health crisis or unexpected circumstances.

Your health care DPOA helps ensure that the right person will be making decisions for you and that those decisions are consistent with your personal values and wishes.

A health care DPOA lasts only as long as you are incapable of making decisions for yourself.

The best policy is to have both a health care DPOA and a living will. 

They work together to ensure that your wishes are understood and followed.  A living will allows you to make your wishes clear so that your agent will not have to rely on guesswork to determine what you would have wanted, your family members can be reassured that your agent is acting in accordance with your wishes, and both your agent and family members are relieved of the emotional burdens of making these difficult decisions.  A living will that is consistent a health care DPOA may make doctors and hospitals more willing to follow your instructions.


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