Health Care and Mental Health Care Power of Attorney

Do you need a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

The Health Care and Mental Health Care Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents to have prepared ahead of time to maintain family harmony during a crisis. The health care power of attorney is the document you use to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable make your own decisions. This person is usually acting because there is a medical crisis so it is important that you choose someone who can understand medical terms and conditions, advocate for you, make logical decisions under great stress, and live with the results of the decision.

Without a health care power of attorney, many issues and complications can arise during a medical crisis.

Disagreements may arise over your care, and you may not get the timely medical attention you need. If you are married, medical professionals usually look to your spouse to make decisions. However, there are times when a backup person is necessary. For example, if your spouse was in the car accident with you, he or she may need someone to make decisions for them too. Or, maybe years have passed since you appointed your spouse and he or she now has dementia or Alzheimer’s and can no longer make decisions for you. Or perhaps you are not married but have children and want them to make decisions for you. However, most medical facilities require a majority agreement between your children before they can act on your behalf, and if you have two children, they must agree unanimously. If there is no majority, the kids end up in probate court in a guardianship proceeding to determine who will be in charge of your medical decisions. Regardless of agreement or not, the process of obtaining multiple children’s agreement may be time consuming – wasting valuable time you may not have.

Arizona has specific language for mental health care decisions that must also be included in your medical power of attorney if you want such decisions to made on your behalf. If your plan lacks this important language, your loved ones will face an uphill battle to get you mental health care if the need ever arises. The mental health care language was enacted as part of a complete overhaul of the Arizona code that occurred in 2009. If you have a plan that was created prior to 2009 or moved from out of state, you almost assuredly need to update your plan. This is one example why it is so important to keep your documents up to date as well as make sure they comply with state law if you’ve moved with a plan from another state.

 Thompson Reuters Super Lawyer