The Power of a Power of Attorney
Establishing a Power of Attorney can be a confusing process, but creating this legal document is essential to ensure that your future medical care will fall in line with your wishes. Once you have chosen a trusted relative or friend to entrust with your future decisions, you might be wondering exactly what this person will and will not be doing.
Two Types of Power of Attorney
First, it’s important to understand that there are two types of Power of Attorney. A healthcare Power of Attorney is able to make medical decisions for you, in the event that you are ever unable to do so yourself. This person should be educated on your wishes regarding various types of medical treatment and life-prolonging care. He or she might also make decisions about where you live and how you receive daily care. You can also outline these wishes in legal documents, if you choose.
You can also establish a financial Power of Attorney. This person can manage your financial decisions and transactions for you, in the event that you are medically incapacitated. This person will make sure that your bills are paid, can file your taxes for you, and make decisions about investments.
You can designate the same person for both of these tasks. Or, you might wish to avoid a conflict of interests, or feel that two different people possess the right type of insight for each job. In that case you can appoint one person as your financial Power of Attorney, and another person as your healthcare Power of Attorney.
What a Power of Attorney Can’t Do
A financial Power of Attorney can indeed access your financial accounts, pay your bills, and perform transactions. However, they can only use their status to perform actions that you have directed to them. If at any point you suspect your financial Power of Attorney of a misdeed, or feel that they are no longer the right person for the job, the status is revocable.
A healthcare Power of Attorney can feel a bit of pressure when making major end-of-life decisions. That’s why a living will can be important. In the living will, you can state your preferences for medical care. This not only ensures that your wishes will be followed, but also prevents feelings of distress and regret for your Power of Attorney. He or she will be compelled to follow your directions.
It is imperative that you discuss your concerns in detail with an estate planning attorney. He or she can help you understand the various issues involved with naming a Power of Attorney, and ease you through this difficult process.
Join us on March 15th at the Temecula Valley Hospital from 6-8pm for a screening of the PBS Frontline Documentary “Being Mortal”. This documentary is based on the end of life experiences of several patients and addresses the importance of talking about end-of-life care goals with your family and medical providers.
Following the film we will have a Q&A session led by Laurence Boggeln, Chief of Staff of Temecula Valley Hospital and Leslee B. Cochrane, MD., Executive Medical Director for Hospice of the Valleys who will be available to interact with the audience and answer questions. During the event we will also be distributing a complimentary copy of “Five Wishes” to attendees. “Five Wishes” is a living will, valid under California state law that talks about your personal, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as your medical wishes. The do-it-yourself format is simple and easy to use and enables you to complete your Health Care Directive in the privacy of your own home
For more information please visit Hospice of the Valleys’ website at www.HospiceoftheValleys.org for future screenings.