Health Care Power of Attorney: Advice for Health Care Decision Makers


A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

As the agent of a Health Care Power of Attorney, you are given the authority to make health care decisions for the grantor when he or she is unable to do so. The authority to make health care decisions on behalf of a loved one can be mentally and emotionally difficult. A health care agent may be required to make critical health care decisions including choosing medical treatments and end-of-life wishes and care. To help individuals serve as the agent for a Health Care Power of Attorney, we have outlined some helpful tips below.

1. Educate yourself

When you become an agent, it is important to educate yourself about the grantor’s medical history. A thorough medical history should include any medications the grantor is currently taking, dietary needs, and current and past treatments. A thorough knowledge of your grantor’s current treatments and care will help you make informed decisions in the future.

2. Talk to the grantor who has named you as an agent

If possible, have a detailed conversation with the grantor to gather all necessary information about care wishes, religious and spiritual beliefs which may affect care options, and end-of-life wishes. Be sure to take notes of all important information that can help you make appropriate health care decisions in the future.

3. Don’t rush to make important decisions

Not all decisions need to be made quickly. If a decision is not urgent, take time to carefully consider the options. If you do not have the expertise to make an educated decision, discuss the options with the grantor’s doctor(s).

4. Keep a copy of the Health Care Power of Attorney on hand

An unexpected visit to the doctor or to the emergency room may require you to make health care decisions. Keep a copy of the Health Care Power of Attorney in a safe accessible place so you can take it with you when needed. Doctors and hospitals may not have a copy of the Power of Attorney, so keeping a copy on hand can make a potentially stressful situation a little easier.

5. Stay organized and ask questions

As a health care agent, it can be difficult to remember all of the information you discuss with doctors. Stay organized by using a folder or binder to keep the grantor’s information and notes from doctors in one place. Also remember to askthe grantor’s doctor(s) questions so you completely understand his/her medical needs and the decisions you may need to make.

Becoming someone’s health care agent can be a daunting task, but with proper preparation and understanding of your responsibilities, you can make well-informed decisions for the grantor. If you or a loved one would like to prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney, contact Newman Elder Law for assistance.

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