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Understand the responsibilities with a medical power of attorney

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2022 | Estate Planning News

Being prepared for every eventuality is imperative for Colorado residents with a business, a family and concerns about the future. This is when it is useful to think about estate planning. Most will equate this with a will or a trust, but there are other aspects that should be considered.

If a person is unfortunate enough to end up in a situation where they are unable to make medical decisions on their own, they may want to have a medical power of attorney. Even if a person has a basic grasp of how this document works, it is still wise to have experienced advice to be aware of all it entails.

Fundamentals of a medical power of attorney

Technically called a medical durable power of attorney, this document grants authority to an agent who can decide on the treatment the person—known as the principal—will receive if they are unable to do so on their own. For example, if the principal needs artificial nutrition or a respirator, the agent can accept or reject it based on their knowledge of what the principal wanted.

The document can place limits on the agent’s authority. There can be conditions attached to it. The medical durable power of attorney might be specific or it might not. In some instances, there may not be any clear details as to what the principal desired based on their medical situation. The agent might not know what the principal would have wanted but they must still act in the principal’s best interests.

This is a tremendous responsibility with significant ramifications. It is trusting another person with the right to make medical decisions most people prefer to make on their own. The agent also has access to the principal’s medical records and history.

Given its importance, legal advice can help with a medical power of attorney

It is vital to have full knowledge of the law and to carefully select a person who can be trusted to follow the principal’s wishes and to act as they would after considering the circumstances. While it may be somewhat worrisome, estate planning is an integral part of being fully prepared to protect a person, their family, their business and their assets.

When creating an estate plan, people should think about their objectives and have help in achieving them. Calling for a consultation can be a first step to creating a comprehensive document, including a medical power of attorney and more.