What is a health care power of attorney, and do I need one?

by Sam LaRoche on July 3, 2014

A health care power of attorney is simply a written document containing decisions made in advance about a person’s medical treatment. The document also designates an agent who is responsible with making sure those decisions are carried out should the principal of the health care power of attorney become incapacitated, or unable to make decisions regarding their own health. That agent may exercise this power only if a doctor examines the principal and if he or she is determined to be of medical incapacity. In other states, a health care power of attorney is sometimes called an advance directive or living will, but in all cases it allows you to decide how you want your health to be treated before it deteriorates to the point at which it needs to be treated.

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