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The importance of naming a health care power of attorney

No one wants to think of what happens at the end of life, but it is an important aspect of Missouri estate planning. Making a health care power of attorney will ensure that the hospital staff carries out one’s wishes in regard to medical care and life support. 

According to FindLaw, a health care power of attorney is a legal document that outlines end-of-life decisions. Having one prevents family members from having to make difficult medical decisions, and it makes sure the health care team follows detailed desires, even if others object to them. With a power of attorney, not only does the person include what decisions to make, but she or he must also name an agent. This agent will be the one who follows the directions of the POA and ultimately makes the decisions. 

Once there is a power of attorney, it does not start until the primary doctor says the patient is not able to make medical determinations. This may occur due to unconsciousness, the inability to communicate or a lack of understanding. 

WebMD discusses some considerations the principle needs to consider while drafting the power of attorney. These include: 

  • Use of a feeding tube 
  • CPR aggressiveness or DNR instructions 
  • Potential trial period for medical/ life-saving treatments 
  • Life sustainment procedures and length of use 

It is also important to take some thought and time before naming an agent. This person should be trustworthy and willing to carry out the wishes, regardless of personal feelings. This person should also be able to ask the medical team challenging questions and be willing to stand up to family members that do not agree about the directives.