What is a medical power of attorney?

Estate planning covers many aspects of your future, not just what to do with your assets after you pass away. It’s more than simply writing a will.

One of the documents that you may want to use in your plans is a medical power of attorney. Not everyone has one, but you should be aware of how a medical power of attorney works and what it does so that you can see if it is right for you.

What does a medical power of attorney do?

The medical power of attorney gives another person the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. Typically, you are the only person who can make choices about your medical care, such as what type of surgery to get, what medications to take, if you want to be on life support, etc.

Part of aging, though, could be that you lose the ability to make these decisions. A cognitive decline could mean you don’t really understand the choices you’re making. A stroke could leave you unable to talk. Another medical condition, like a brain injury, could mean that you’re unconscious. It’s hard to predict these types of events.

With a medical power of attorney, you can at least plan to have someone else make your medical decisions. You can pick someone you trust and discuss your exact wishes with them. Ideally, they’ll never have to use this power. If something happens though, you’ll know that you have legally put someone in a position to help you when you cannot do it yourself.

Setting up your estate plan

Estate planning is wide-ranging and complex, so make sure you know what legal options you have as you get your plan set up.