Health Care Directives

A health care power of attorney is a document by which you give someone else, known as your health care agent, the power to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The power becomes effective when a physician determines in writing that you lack capacity to make your own health care decisions. You can designate a physician to make the determination; otherwise, your attending physician will do so. The health care agent’s authority remains effective until you regain competency or otherwise revoke the power.

The document gives your health care agent the power to make broad decisions about many aspects of your health care, including whether you should receive antibiotics, whether life support should be given or removed, and the type of mental health care you may receive. Moreover, a health care power of attorney can also designate certain things beyond death, including whether an autopsy should be performed and whether your organs should be donated. Under a properly drafted health care power of attorney, you can always limit the powers of your agent if you elect.

It is wise to consider the relationship between your attorney-in-fact under your durable power of attorney for finances and your health care agent under your health care power of attorney. The two will need to interact and work together for your benefit. Sometimes having one person serve in both roles is the best decision.

Schedule a consultation with an estate planning and probate attorney to discuss how Bagwell Holt Smith P.A. can assist you with health care directives.

Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys