While you cannot predict what will happen in the future, there are things you can do that will provide you with a measure of control over certain important matters. Through specific estate planning tools, you can have the final say in critical health care issues you could experience in the future. One of the most important tools available to California adults is a health care power of attorney, a document that lets you make certain medical decisions for yourself.
A health care power of attorney is a legal document that gives you the ability to name someone to act on your behalf in case of incapacitation. This document, along with others, can give you peace of mind knowing that your interests are secure, even if the unexpected happens. Health care planning is an important step in the creation of a complete estate plan.
Empowering you to make important decisions for yourself
A health care power of attorney is an important document, regardless of your age or health status. If you are ever ill or injured to the point where you cannot make decisions for yourself, this document could be important. In it, you will name a specific, trusted person to make the best possible medical decisions for you regarding your care, treatment or life-saving measures you may need. This is an immense responsibility, and it is important to carefully consider your options when granting someone health care power of attorney.
The role of your health care proxy is to advocate for your best interests and your preferences in the event that you cannot express your needs and wishes. It will be important to discuss these matters with your proxy so that he or she can know what types of care you would want, or the types of interventions you do not want. This designation is a deeply personal decision, but it is not permanent, and you can change your health care proxy at any time.
Part of a complete plan
You will benefit from considering including a health care proxy as part of your estate plan. If you are unsure of how this document can benefit you, it may be useful to seek an assessment of your needs and concerns for the future. In many cases, a health care power of attorney works best in conjunction with a living will, another document that allows you to specify your preferences regarding certain medical interventions.