Many Pennsylvanians are concerned as to what might happen to them if they are incapacitated after an injury or illness. They might have limits as to what kind of treatment they want to be given. Or they want to make sure they are given various treatments. It is in these circumstances when it might be wise to consider a health care power of attorney.
While many might have a vague notion as to what a health care power of attorney is and what it does, people need should know exactly how extensive the agent’s authority goes. For this and other matters involved in comprehensive estate planning, it is always useful to have guidance.
The law grants extensive powers to the agent
Under a health care power of attorney, any health care decision that would ordinarily be made by the individual will be left to the health care agent. The care given to the person – also known as the principal – will be covered by the document. It includes admitting them to a hospital, nursing home and residential facility.
When the principal needs life-sustaining care such as surgery, the agent makes the decision as to whether it should be done. They will be given all the information as to the person’s prognosis and needs and make the determination. This includes treatments to address illnesses, stopping treatment and continuing it.
The agent consults with the health care providers regarding what is needed, the viability of care, the quality of life and what can and cannot be done to help the person recover. The principal will have their own objectives and values beforehand and it is up to the agent to know and adhere to them.
If there are no specific wishes, the agent can decide based on their knowledge of what the principal would likely have wanted. The agent will also have access to the principal’s medical information.
Remember the importance of professional assistance
Estate planning comes in many forms. Of course, it encompasses wills, trusts and other methods of ensuring property goes to the people and entities a person wants it to go. But it also includes being fully prepared for the future and ensuring a person’s objectives are known and followed.
With giving such enormous responsibility to another person through a health care power of attorney, it is vital to know what it entails. That includes how much authority the agent has. To be completely aware of the law and understand all the aspects of the document, it is useful to know the options and have caring help from experienced professionals. This can make a major difference in having peace of mind.