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Understanding a power of attorney for healthcare

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2021 | estate planning

A power of attorney for healthcare can be a useful tool to consider using along with an estate plan.

In Missouri, a power of attorney for healthcare allows an agent to make health care decisions for the principal. The principal is the person who creates the power of attorney.  He or she may list alternate agents who can act in the event that the first agent resigns or is unable to act.

It must be drafted by a principal who is of sound mind and the agent must be 18 years of age or older. It must be signed by the principal and dated.

Incapacity

The power of attorney for healthcare takes effect when the principal is incapacitated, based on a physician certification. Incapacity means that the principal is unable to make healthcare decisions.

In the event the principal is no longer able to make healthcare decisions for themselves, the power of attorney for healthcare provides them with the peace of mind of knowing someone they trust is designated to do that for them.

Except where the power of attorney states otherwise, the agent may receive information about any proposed health care for the principal and may also receive and review the principal’s medical records. The agent may also consent to the disclosure of the principal’s medical records.

Revocation

A power of attorney for healthcare is revocable at any time and in any manner that the principal is able to communicate his or her intent to revoke. The revocation is effective when the communication is made to the agent or a physician.

In addition to providing guidance about the estate planning process, an attorney can prepare a power of attorney for healthcare so it reflects the principal’s wishes. It is helpful to have these plans in place well in advance of when they are needed.