Do I Need a Health Directive or a Power of Attorney (POA)?

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    Your health is precious. When an illness or injury renders you unable to make decisions, your healthcare can often depend on your legal preparedness. Unfortunately, most Americans have yet to prepare their most vital estate planning documents. In 2019, only 18 percent of Americans over 55 had a will, power of attorney, and health directive. Although most assume decisions when you’re incapacitated are controlled by a power of attorney (POA), there may be benefit to a health directive too. To ensure you receive the best healthcare possible, consider how these two documents can work together for you.

    What is an Advance Health Directive?

    An advance health directive is a document that outlines your wishes for your healthcare should you become incapacitated. It offers direction on which treatments you allow, length of life support, and whether to resuscitate you. Although you may not be able to express yourself, a health directive lays out your choices ahead of time. In short, you decide everything.

    What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

    Unlike a health directive, a POA reserves decision-making privileges for another person whom you designate – your agent or attorney-in-fact. This person is not necessarily a legal professional. In fact, they’re often a patient’s close family member or friend. Because your agent is likely someone close to you, they may know your personal wishes and may act accordingly. However, in situations for which you have not planned, the onus lies with your agent to choose the best care. For this reason, make sure you designate someone you trust absolutely as your agent.

    How Can a Health Directive and POA Work Together?

    For some people, it may be a good idea to create both a health directive and a POA. These two documents have different purposes and can provide protection in areas where the other may fail. For example, if you’ve set up a health directive already, it likely doesn’t address every healthcare situation you will ever find yourself in. While a health directive will cover the most common questions your healthcare team may have, designating a person as your agent in a POA will ensure someone you trust will make those unexpected decisions with you in mind.

    Get Estate Planning Help in the Inland Empire

    Only you can decide which are the best estate planning documents for your situation. However, you don’t have to feel trapped by all the paperwork. The legal document assistants at ProSe Legal can help you navigate the complex world of health directive and POA documents so you can feel confident it’s done right the first time. We provide local legal document help from our offices throughout the Inland Empire and from our COVID-compliant mobile office, so it’s never been easier to get paperwork assistance!

    If you’re ready to get out from under that pile of legal paperwork, or call (909) 497-1349 today!