California’s population is aging, and there will likely come a time that either you or one of your parents will benefit from a durable power of attorney. Essentially, this type of legal document allows either you or your parent to name someone who will act as an agent on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
While there are two main types of power of attorney documents, a power of attorney for health care is the one that can appoint someone to make a health care-related decision on your or your loved one’s behalf.
The point of a power of attorney is to transfer decision-making power to someone you know and trust, but it is critical that the document is created long before you or your parent becomes incapacitated. Just as a will is something you want to create long before you hit old age, a power of attorney, too, is wise to have for those “just in case” scenarios. Further, in order for the document to be valid, you or your loved one must be of sound mind when it is signed, meaning you must fully comprehend the document and what it means for you to sign it.
Once you or your parent grants someone power of attorney, he or she has the right to make important medical decisions on your behalf should the need arise, such as whether to use life-saving measures. The person you award this power will also typically have access to your medical records, and he or she will also be allowed to visit you should you find yourself hospitalized. Exactly when the power of attorney goes into effect is also up to you or your parent. You may create a power of attorney that goes into effect immediately or you may draft it so that it only takes effect when you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make health care decisions on your own.
To appoint someone power of attorney on your behalf, or to help a parent do the same, you may want to contact an attorney.