A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that enables you to designate another person, your agent, to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself.

Photo of a senior man with his daughter and grandson.
A Health Care Powers of Attorney allows your agent to work together with your health care providers to decide what course of treatment would be best for you. Without a Health Care Powers of Attorney, if you become incapacitated, it may be necessary to have a court determine that you are incompetent before a a family member or other person appointed as your guardian is able to make health care decisions for you. Not only does a Health Care Powers of Attorney help you and your family avoid these legal proceedings but it also allows you to choose the person who will make your health care decisions, rather than having the choice made by someone else. Therefore, a Health Care Powers of Attorney is important for everyone, not only those who are sick, terminally ill, elderly or in high risk jobs or activities.

In addition to a Health Care Power of Attorney, you may also want a Living Will (also known as an Advanced Directive or a Declaration for a Desire for a Natural Death). A Living Will allows you to express your wishes about life-prolonging measures in the event you are permanently unconscious, suffer from advanced dementia, or are terminally ill.

A Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will may be combined into a single legal document. It is important to consider both of these documents as part of your comprehensive estate plan.