This is one of the most important documents to have prepared ahead of time to keep family harmony in a crisis. The health care power of attorney is the document where you choose you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make your own decisions. This person is usually acting because there is a medical crisis so it is important that you choose someone that can handle that kind of stress. When you don’t have a health care power of attorney a couple of things happen. If you are married, medical professionals usually look to the spouse to make decisions. That is fine if the spouse is able to, but maybe they were in the car accident with you and need someone to make decisions for them too. Or, maybe they have dementia or Alzheimer’s and can no longer make decisions for you. Or perhaps you are not married? You think to yourself, that’s fine my kids can decide. Most medical facilities will need 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.
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