Taking Care of the Elderly's Legal Needs (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care)

Although none of us like to dwell on the possibilities of sickness and disability, there are certain actions that need to be taken in anticipation that the day might come when we are unable to take care of ourselves or a loved one. One such legal document that should be prepared is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

The Power of Attorney for Health Care gives an individual you name certain rights to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to make those decisions. Even so, you can still exercise some control by what statements are contained in the document. You can state your desire to refuse medical treatment that merely prolongs an inevitable death when the burden of such treatment outweighs the anticipated benefits; or you may be more restrictive and state you want treatment to continue unless you are in an irreversible coma; or, if you desire to hold on to life as long as possible, you can direct that you want to be kept alive by all means available.

The Power of Attorney may authorize another person to receive, review, and release all medical records; to execute documents; to refuse treatment; or to withdraw you as a patient from a hospital and to release the hospital from liability.

Additionally, you may state whether you want your body parts donated. You can give your agent power to dispose of your remains and to authorize an autopsy.

If the agent you select to act under the Power of Attorney is unable to do so, you can name alternates. You can also name the person you would like to be your conservator should that be necessary.

The Power of Attorney for Health Care provider may save your family money and relieve them of anxiety in trying to determine what your wishes actually are.