The document that you use to document this choice is something called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. (“DPOA for Health Care”)
A good DPOA for Health Care will name your selection of Health Care Agents, including your choices of successor Agent. If you chose to have more than one person serve as an agent, you will need to include how you want decisions to be made.
If you are asking for someone to serve as a temporary agent, the criteria for the transition from temporary agent to permanent agent should be spelled out. An attorney familiar with disability planning can give talk to you about the pros and cons of various arrangements that might be possible.
If you wish your agent to consult your Health Care Directive or with any other family member or friend, that should also be documented.
A good DPOA for Health Care will spell out what specific powers you are granting. Powers that will typically be seen in a good DPOA for Health Care include: power to give informed consent to allow or withdraw treatment, access to medical records, ability to disclose medical records, employ health care personnel, grant releases, determine residence, summon emergency treatment, provide companionship, and provide advance authority for autopsy, funeral arrangements, and organ donation. These powers should not be included if they are not ones that you are ready to entrust to the Agent. An Attorney familiar with disability planning can discuss with you the implications of including or not including any of these powers.
A good DPOA for Health Care will also include a nomination for who should serve as the legal guardian of your person, an extremely powerful role, the need for which will hopefully be eliminated by your DPOA for Health Care. Because a guardian, if one is assigned, will take precedence over your Health Care Agent in making health care choices for you, failure to nominate your Agent as Guardian may create a temptation for other friends or family members to attempt to be assigned as Guardians if they disagree with the choices the Agent is making leading to the kind of conflict a disability plan is designed to avoid.
One relatively new issue for DPOA for Health Care is to make sure the language of the DPOA is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). It is possible that if such language is not in your DPOA, a doctor or hospital may not be able to share medical information with your Agent making it impossible for them to do their job. While all DPOAs drafted after 1996 should have contained such language, the unfortunate reality is that some practitioners relied on old forms and did not make the necessary changes for many years. If you have a current DPOA and it does not make specific reference to HIPAA, we recommend that you have an attorney look at the DPOA to make sure that it is compliant.
If you would like help selecting your Health Care Agent or crafting a Durable Power of Attorney, please call or email now for a free half hour consultation to see if our services are right for you. Tel. (206) 459-1908 or firstname.lastname@example.org or attend one of our free classes.