A power of attorney for medical or medical care is a type of advance directive in which you name a person to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. In some states, this directive may also be referred to as a permanent power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for health care. There are two fundamental documents that must be executed during your lifetime to ensure you get the kind of medical care you want if you are ever incapacitated. The first is commonly called a living will, advance directive or appointment of patient advocate, or something similar.
Regardless of name, these documents allow you to instruct doctors and healthcare providers about the type of medical care you want and don't want if you are unable to report them yourself. The Permanent Power of Attorney for Health Care gives your agent the authority to take action on your behalf and carry out your instructions for medical care, without delays in court proceedings. Choosing the right legal document for your needs will make a difference, and an estate planning lawyer can help. Depending on your status, the person you give a permanent power of attorney for health care will usually be called your agent, proxy, de facto attorney, patient advocate or substitute.
Each state has its own advance directive form, which gives you questions to answer and specific things you can choose to accept or decline, but you can always add additional information about your wishes if the form doesn't include everything you're worried about. The forms included on the Florida Health Care Administration Advance Directives website (scroll down to find downloadable forms) have been approved by the Florida Supreme Court. Finally, keep in mind that in some states they combine the living will and the permanent power of attorney for health care into a single document called an advance health care directive. Before a medical power of attorney can be used to guide medical decisions, a person's doctor must certify that the person cannot make their own medical decisions.
You can usually get advance directive forms from your state's bar association or from Caring Connection (part of the National Hospice and palliative care Organization). Videos are not a substitute for advance directives, but they may be helpful to your health care proxy and loved ones. The second document states who has a medical power of attorney for their health care decisions, so that they can answer questions that their living will does not address. There are state-specific forms for advance directives like these; you don't need an attorney to prepare them.
Once you choose a medical power of attorney, continue to talk to them on an ongoing basis about possible situations that could occur and how you would like them to be handled. Even though you state your wishes in your living will, those documents can never cover all circumstances, and the person who has a permanent power of attorney for health care can make decisions that are not covered by your living will. Whether you write a living will, choose a medical power of attorney, or both, you'll have to make those legally binding decisions, in writing. You must give a copy of the documents to all your doctors, your permanent power of attorney agent, and your family or friends.