The Health Care Power of Attorney is a document executed by a competent person giving another person, an agent or attorney-in-fact, the authority to make health care decisions for the principal if he or she is unable to communicate such decisions. By executing a health care proxy, a person ensures that the instructions that they have given their agent will be carried out. A Health Care Power of Attorney is especially important to have if an individual believes family members may disagree about treatment.
If you do not have a Health Care Power of Attorney executed while you are competent to make these decisions for yourself, under Pennsylvania law, there is a chain-of-command within a patient’s family regarding who will make the decisions for you. The patient’s spouse generally is first in line among family members to be given the responsibility of end-of-life care decision-making. An adult child is next in line, followed by a parent, an adult brother or sister, and finally an adult grandchild. In situations where these family members do not exist, an adult with knowledge of the patient’s preferences and values would be designated through the court as the decision-maker.
It is important to decide who you want to make health care decisions for you and the powers you want this person to have.
At Halligan & Keaton, in Media, Pennsylvania, we have more than 60 years of combined legal experience. We provide a free initial consultation to every client. To discuss your estate planning needs with an experienced lawyer, call our office at 610-566-6030 or contact us online. We will travel to your home, a long-term care facility or the hospital to meet with you.