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Everything You Need to Know About Medical Power of Attorney

As we age, our health becomes more of a concern. In fact, taking control of our medical decisions is an essential part of planning for the future. Here’s everything you need to know about a medical power of attorney!


What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A medical power of attorney is a vital legal document that allows you to designate someone to make important healthcare decisions if you become unable to do so yourself. Known as your healthcare agent or surrogate, this person will make important medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot.

What Is the Purpose of a Medical Power of Attorney?

Most of us would like to think that we will always be able to make decisions about our health care. However, health issues and accidents do happen to even the most careful among us. In such cases, we might not be able to think or even speak clearly. That’s where a medical power of attorney comes in! Your healthcare agent will make medical decisions based on the wishes outlined in your POA. Some of the decisions your healthcare agent may have to make for you may include:

  • Treatment options
  • End-of-life care
  • Organ donation
  • The facilities where you’ll receive your medical care
  • The doctors who will oversee your medial care

A few examples of medical conditions that could require your medical power of attorney to act on your behalf include:

  • A coma, stroke, or brain injury
  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or any other degenerative disease
  • A lapse in mental health

What Should You Include in Your MPOA?

writing a checklist

When drafting your MPOA, you should be very clear about your wishes and instructions. Some of the essential information includes:

  • The name and contact information your healthcare agent
  • Your medical history, including any underlying conditions, allergies, and medications you’re taking
  • Specific guidelines about end-of-life care and life-sustaining treatments
  • Instructions regarding organ donations and funeral arrangement
  • The right to continue (or stop) medical treatment

Choosing Your Healthcare Agent

hugging grandma

Choosing a healthcare agent is an important decision. Not only should you choose someone you trust, but you should also choose someone who understands your medical wishes and values. Your healthcare agent could be a family member, a friend, or even an attorney. Remember, though—it’s essential to think about what will happen if your healthcare agent is unavailable or unwilling to fulfill their duties. Have backup agents in place for any eventuality.

Reviewing and Updating Your Medical Power of Attorney

Your medical power of attorney is not a one-time document. Make sure to regularly review and update your medical power of attorney, especially every time you have a significant change in your life! By doing so, you can ensure your peace of mind. Knowing that someone else will be able to make healthcare decisions for you in difficult situations will make them easier to get through.


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Originally published June 15, 2023

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